Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vibrant Hope

For the last three years I've been accumulating information, papers, and pamphlets about eating disorders. All these papers sort of strewn about needed some organizing. I put together a handy little folder of all these papers in order from my first day of counseling to the most recent.

First I went to my dietician, Chris, who gently helped me see the harm I was doing my body from a physical standpoint. If I kept starving myself I learned I could stunt my growth, be slower in sports, have menstrual problems, have early onset osteoporosis, hair loss, sking flakiness, and loss of muscle. She gave me a meal plan that I was to follow and write down on meal plan worksheets. I can show you what I ate for every meal, every single day of the year 2007.

My first counselor in Lincoln, Teresa, taught me how to say, 'no,' how to set goals, how to seek balance, how to nurture myself, and how to talk to others about it. So much of eating disorder recovery involves finding out or remembering who I am. Part of my homework one day after counseling was to go to Starbucks, order a frappuchino, and drink it. I begged her not to make me do it. I cried, but I did it. We celebrated days when I didn't eat vegetables and didn't feel guilty about it. She would give me eating assignments or challenge me to go a day without exercise.

In Cambodia, Stella, a friend/counselor taught me how to tap into algorithms in my body to ease anxiety. Each time we met she would have me sit in front of a mirror and say, "I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman." Again, "I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful, woman." Again...

As I leaf through this huge binder of ED information, I'm somewhat perplexed at how far I've come. This information sounds so simple to me now.

When asked to write about my biggest fears, I wrote:
"I am so tried. I can't stop crying. I'm not necessarily crying because of what I ate. I'm crying because I struggle and hurt. I have the same conversations over and over again with friends and family. I'm afraid they will give up on me because I don't seem to be getting any better. I am still struggling. I am existing in my own life. I have so much to offer the world, or at least, I used to. I can't seem to live in my own life and fight anorexia at the same time. I feel like a failure. I am not strong enough to beat this."

Things change. Thank God.

Jill D. Jank MS, RD, offers,"How You Can Prevent an Eating Disorder" in this handout I received from my dietician.

"1. Learn about and educate others about the dangers of prolonged, excessive dieting.
2. Learn about and educate others about the advertising designed to make people feel inferior. It promises magic results if only a certain "look" is achieved.
3. Develop a healthy sense of self-esteem/self-confidence. Accept and like yourself for who you are, not for what you look like. Encourage others to do the same.
4. Avoid pushing yourself or others to be "super-human." Be an encourager.
5. Be aware of stress and pain in your life and others. Talk with close friends about your pain. Learn healthy stress reducing techniques.
6. Avoid trying to "fix" someone else's problems. Listen to and love them instead.
7. Model and encourage good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
8. Avoid dieting and promotional diets. Those with naturally thin model-size bodies make up less than 5% of the population. Encourage health, not thinness. Express love regardless of how they look.
9. Women--Be a good role model; avoid criticizing your own body. Avoid dwelling on how you and others look.
10. Men--Avoid criticizing women who don't meet your standard of physical beauty. Women are people, not bodies. Avoid encouraging women to lose weight because YOU will feel better.
11. If someone you care about wants to lose weight, find out why. A different body size will not change feelings of being inadequate or unacceptable. Help them to deal with the real issues."

I can learn from the past and move forward with beautiful, vibrant hope.


Michael said...

Having physical evidence of growth and chance is priceless. Another great reason to blog, huh? :)