If you told me 364 days ago that tomorrow would be that last day I would binge and purge, I would have laughed in your face... And probably never talked to you again.
April 8th, 2018 marks one full year since I gave up the unhealthy behaviour of bingeing and purging. I wish I could say it also marked the end of the 8 year war I've been fighting with my eating disorder, but things are never that easy. What I've learned above anything else is that it's not just the behaviour you have to ship out- it's all the baggage you've accumulated with it.
I wouldn't call myself recovered yet- I don't know if I ever will. With that being said, every day I distance myself from my illness. This is a recovery milestone for me, and I'm ready to share some realizations that have occurred along the way.
My twenty-third birthday was a couple weeks ago. It was a pretty big celebration- and for a good reason. My early twenties have brought me some crazy highs, but also the scariest lows I've ever experienced. Throughout my long-term battle with my eating disorder, I've gone through waves where I believed it would be so much easier if I stopped existing. Yet, on January 28th, I was surrounded by the people I love. My heart was full of joy, and I felt as though I was radiating with the desire to enjoy life. Then, I paused to reflect on how I was able to get here. Yes, it would not have been possible without my professional and personal support networks. However, I tend to discredit a huge amount of my recovery success to where it's well-due: to myself.
Hiding My Eating Disorder: What I Wish My Gym Teachers, Dance Instructors, Physical Therapists, and Personal Trainers Would Have Been More Aware Of When I Was Sick.
A huge part of eating disorder advocacy is not just about eating disorder recovery, but awareness and risk mitigation too. There are so many red flags that have been normalized by fitness culture that could be leading someone down a dark and possibly very dangerous hole. While fitness and recreation have always played a huge part in my life, I have not always had a positive relationship with exercise. At a younger age, this relationship was shared with my coaches, trainers, and teachers. As Eating Disorder Awareness Week rolls around the corner, here are some things I wish a few people in my life were aware of.
My very first post was published a year ago today.
I remember the first time I read a mental health blog post written by someone who I personally knew. The truth and sheer vulnerability in her writing was so inspiring. I had met this person once, and yet it felt like I was having an intimate conversation with someone, who, for the first time in my life, understood and could relate to my own struggles.
Hey, Anna, you might be half a country away but I am still so thankful for your support in pushing me to start sharing my own journey.
First, I want to say I'm sorry. Not for quitting dance, or never perfecting those quad pirouettes like you wrote- but for abandoning what made you (us) so special: the determination to stop at nothing when you really, truly wanted something for yourself.
It's the motivation of this blog. The face of my mantra. But what do you get to call yourself, when the behaviours fade away? And why am I so attached to a label?
The future I thought I knew escaped me a few weeks ago. The things I had planned, my goals and life timeline drastically changed on a Friday afternoon when my boyfriend of over three years and I parted ways.
It was hard, and it broke my heart. But we can both agree it was for the best. I have no regrets, and I am incredibly thankful for the time we spent together.
It seemed like everyone, including me, expected the worst to happen. That this would do me in; regress my recovery enough that I would be hospitalized for something related to my mental illness.
You may be just as surprised as I was to know, the exact opposite happened. I am more okay, and more myself than ever.
First, I want to say I'm ok.
Fuck, this is a hard post to write. But I guess that's what stigma is all about.
I hit a low this week, and I'm strong enough to talk about it now. I'm not doing this for attention or to seek help, I have that already.
If you're reading this, I hope you can learn from my experience. Let's make the Crisis Distress Line something that isn't so scary to call, something that doesn't make you feel weak.
Because calling crisis and getting through the night was incredibly empowering. With that being said, there were a lot of emotions in between that I think are worth sharing.
**ALSO: This post may contain triggers. It's also pretty long. Sorry friends.
** Warning: This post may contain triggers**
Man, it feels like I haven't gotten really vulnerable in a while.
So here we go!
I've been struggling with my health both mentally and physically. Somehow, in the midst of the chaos, I turned to missing something- my eating disorder. At first I was mad, how could I miss something that is so bad for me? But instead, I'm going to try and share my "why" and take a little edge off the internal self hatred. Write it out. Some self care or therapeutic shit I keep talking about. Lets get in my head.
Yeah ED, you heard me.
I realize as a reader who has not been plagued by an eating disorder, the thought that there are two voices in my head sounds well, a little crazy.
I've spent years listening to ED. But today, I got fedthefuckup.
So you're having a panic attack.
Or maybe sadness has overwhelmed you.
You're distressed by a big meal,
Something in the past 48 hours inevitably went wrong.
Crisis, crisis, crisis.
Part of recovery is learning how to cope with these experiences, without self destructive behaviours. By practicing self-soothing, you are literally changing how your brain copes with stress- for the better.
Yep, I said it. And I mean it. While you can no longer search #thinspo on social media, you can still search #fitspo. I dare you to find me 5 trainers or gyms who sell their product without using client testimonials paired with weight loss pictures and numbers.
February 1st kicks off Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) here in Canada. The National Eating Disorder Information Centre's theme for EDAW 2017 is "Not A Choice".
Falling into the patters of my eating disorder was like being tied down to train tracks in some cartoon movie and watching the headlights approaching at a racing speed. I did not choose to get sick. What I am choosing to do, is recover.
Warning! This post contains triggers about body image, and binge/purge cycles.
I want to talk about why I have this blog, and what it means for me. #BellLetsTalk has generated so much good, so many positive conversation. Yet somehow, I got caught up in what I do best; I started to compare myself. You aren't sick enough to be blogging about this- you don't know shit. You aren't thin enough, depressed enough, and my least favourite, maybe you're just trying to seek attention. Thankfully to some bomb ass CBT training I was able to catch these thoughts and throw them out.
However, before I do that- I want to talk about them. #BellLetsTalk is all about sharing stories. I am so proud of my blog and ecstatic with the version of myself Bree-lynn captured, yet somehow on January 25th, for a few hours, I felt like a fraud.
This is my message to you:
The minute you think you might need therapy, start looking into options. Lots of schools offer free counselling, and there are tons of places that will do a sliding scale for students, young adults, and people in low-income situations. I have so many regrets about not starting counselling when my doctor told me to. So please, fuck the stigma. Fuck the excuses in your head. Walk down the hallway, go through intake, and begin getting the help you deserve.
Sometimes, it feels like there is no end to the darkness.
I can't help but think, I don't want to die, but I don't want to be alive. I don't want this life.
I call the days that these thoughts occur my "cloud days". For a predominant amount of the fall, cloud days dominated my life. I wouldn't eat. I either slept way too much or far too little. I was sad. All. The. Time.
But then a flip happened. The ratio of bad days to good days suddenly changed. Instead of tracking the number of days I didn't purge, I could count the 1-2 times a week where I did. I spent more days feeling good about my mental health, focusing less on my body. The noise got slightly quieter.
That flip, was such a sigh of relief. That flip told me that there is hope- I can get healthy.
Heeeeello 2017. How are ya?!?
January is that time of year where everyone sets new goals. As a goal-oriented person, I think this is great. However, when I scroll through social media I find that so many posts are about people hoping to lose weight, eat "better", and change their bodies. This sounds so familiar to me, as I thought the same for years. Sometimes it feels like I still do.
I would like to call myself a feminist. So why did I create this dichotomy for myself where I believed that changing my body would positively impact my self-worth? How can I support feminism, while simultaneously believing my value to society could be changed based on my appearance?
Spoiler: I can't. But that's a good thing.
Someome very close to me told me that she thought I was "starting to look healthy" again. I know this was supposed to be a compliment, but it wasn't to me. This is a problem that people have when they don't completely understand eating disorders- the littlest words can have the biggest effect on us.
**Warning: this post contains triggers**
This is the kind of thing I probably should keep in my journal- but maybe someone else can relate to what's going on. One of those "never alone" things. I don't know.
I don't want anyone to have the impression that I am doing things right, because we all know I have taken as many, if not more wrong turns than anyone else on this journey. Let's exploit that today.
And to you, I'm sorry.
Please know, this is not what you think. My dad is the most important man in my life and I am certainly not going to spend the next few paragraphs bashing him. This post is about acceptance and being human. Enjoy the laugh, and realize I love my dad, so so much.
A few months ago, I was introduced to Brene Brown's Ted Talks. I'm not going to say that 20 minutes completely changed by life, but it did change how I thought about myself and my interactions.
I've been vulnerable before realizing that it was an actual researched thing for success. Volunteering for the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta has taught me the importance of sharing stories about my mental illness. When I talk to people who I am not very close to, I feel incredibly empowered and thankful that I am brave enough to share and educate others from my personal experiences.
But vulnerability has also backfired on me.
** Warning: This post may contain triggers **
This guide is completely for me, but I am choosing to post it as a form of accountability.
I would also like to think someone other than my mom is reading my blog, and if that is the case, I hope someone else can benefit from my experiences to ease or add comfort to their journey.
I'm that friend.
You know, the one who you can lean on when you're sad. The one you can call randomly. The one who will check-in a week later when I knew you had a rough night.
Or at least, I can be that friend. When I'm healthy.
Earlier this year, I had a couple encounters with different intake services for mental health.
While every service provider was different, one question always remained the same for the person who was struggling: What is your support network like?