Update

It’s been difficult lately. I have been on medical leave for a week now and have been going to program during the day for 2 days now. I am not completely convinced that I like the structure for program during the day yet. I miss my evening peers and had huge anxiety going into my first day. But it has eased up a bit and I am getting the hang of things.

I had huge urges to exercise today. I had it all planned out too even though I haven’t been released to workout it. But after processing and talking to my therapist and nutritionist I realized that it was my ED talking and that I really need to focus on recovery and not push myself yet to workout. I know I will get there and I need to be have patience. For now I just have to keep putting work into my goals and my meal plan and let it all happen when it happens. I leave ya with a picture I took of the cutest thing I have seen in a long time! I want one now! Lol


First day on medical leave

I finally decided that it was going to be better for me to take some time off of work. I started IOP in March and I started off doing very well. But it got harder as time progress and work stress was not helping any. I wasn’t able to focus at work. I was always tired and I was not putting in much effort in program. It was all too overwhelming. Something had to give and after much talk with my team I decided to take that step and focus on my recovery. Making the decision was a difficult one. I resisted, I felt some of my control of doing the things I did normally will go away. I didn’t like the fact that someone else would be trying to help do my work. Prior to knowing when my leave was gonna start I tried to prepare and do most of the work so no one had to be inconvenienced. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for taking the time off. I feel ashamed, and felt like I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way. I wasn’t taking the time to go on vacation or anything. I was taking the time to better my health! Yet I was full of guilt. I know that this will be a good thing for me and I just have to let go of the negative thoughts.


Have a day!

Today has been one of those days that I just feel all over the place. I am sad, anxious, confused, drained and just very emotional. I also have been feeling really overwhelmed because work has not been the easiest while being in treatment. I finally made the decision that I am going to take a leave from work to focus on recovery. I think its just too much for me to be stressed about work while I am trying to learn how to cope with my emotions and behaviors. This was not an easy decision as my work is pretty important to me and the thought of someone else doing my work makes me feel uneasy. My perfectionism when it comes to my work is a little maddening. My body image has been pretty bad as well lately. I have felt that I am constantly gaining weight. The person I see in the mirror I really don’t recognize anymore. My clothes also have been fitting me a bit tight again. I feel I am such a failure right now because I have been lying to myself and my team. What I can grazing on food is in actuality bingeing. And I don’t feel good about that at all. I am so ashamed. But I know that this is all part of the process and that I need to step back and center and take it step by step. And just have a day…Have a day


Learning new coping skills

Since starting program my emotions and thoughts have been all over the place. It has even gotten to the point that I feel that I have gotten worse with my behaviors since starting program. But in reality I know that it’s not that I have gotten worse it’s that the coping skills that I would go to have been taken away because they were not healthy coping skills and since I am not able to go to those I have to find other ways of dealing with things. And that’s where the hard part has come into play. My behaviors and emotions are just out of control and I am not able to cope. I have tried so many different things to help with this but it’s hard. My perfectionism makes it difficult to do some crafts because if I do not excel or do them perfect the first time I end up losing interest and get frustrated, which makes my anxiety act up, which then makes me want to turn to food for comfort! It’s a horrible circle and right now I feel trapped. I don’t know how to move forward. I feel like a hamster trapped in that treadmill and I don’t know how to jump off of it. I took up doing friendship bracelets and that helped me a little bit. But I kept on getting frustrated because the knots would be right or I would grab the wrong string and had to start over. I beat myself up too much! lol Below is pictures of 2 bracelets I made.

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ED comes in all shapes and forms

When I was first thinking that I could possibly have an eating disorder I was in denial. Because for me I thought that if you had an eating disorder you had to be really skinny or really obese. My thinking was either you don’t eat enough or you eat too much. I just didn’t think I had either at the moment because I hadn’t been obese in a long time and I am certainly not thin. I was somewhere in between, and I guess that is why I thought there was no way I could have a problem.

From previous posts I have mentioned that I used to be obese. I weighed over 280 lbs or so. I would use food as my comfort basically all my life. I would eat to the point that I would numb the pain I was going through. I was a binge eater and then it changed to having bulimia for the ladder portion of my 30’s. For the most part, ED was my comfort in my times of loneliness and feeling down on myself. Whatever I was going through my ED was there for me. In therapy yesterday I realized that my ED is mad at me right now because I am trying to get rid of it. It has been around for so long and been there for me so now I am trying to let it go? I realized my ED is not going to go away without a fight! It has been manipulating and been deceiving me for as long as I can remember! So right now it is causing me all these types of behaviors and emotions that I don’t know how to quite handle. Makes me question why? Is it because my ED was the answer to all that I was feeling and the way I would cope? Now that I am trying not to fall into giving into my ED I am confused in how I am supposed to cope with it all… I mean if I can’t turn to my ED who do I turn too? That’s all part of the recovery process for me. Trying to figure out who I am and how do I cope with my issues without turning to food! I know recovery is not going to happen overnight. Its going to take some tough and challenging times. But just like the ED is putting up a fight…. so am I! Gloves drawn!!



Coping skill… watercolor

My niece got me into taking an online watercolor class. And at first I was really excited about it. But in all honesty I didn’t end up doing the class. I even ended up taking back the stuff that I had bought at Michael’s to start painting. In therapy there are a couple people who either draw, read, do crossword puzzles and there is one girl who colors with brush markers. She let me play with them one day and I fell in love with them. I went on a shopping spree and decided to buy them along with other water pens to help with blending. I got the Arteza 48 Real Water Brush PensArteza water brush pens, and Assorted tips Arteza brush pens. I have always been artistic and could draw and color but never tried my hand at painting anything. So I am far from an expert! I am learning the lingo and what best paper I like and what type of things I like to paint. I started with floral’s and have ventured into some abstract. Below are the items that I am using and that I have liked so far. I will post more of the paintings I do in upcoming blogs! real-brush-pens.png

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Its been awhile…

I took some time away from posting due to just having a hard time lately with my ED. I am on the restriction train and I also purged one day this week. I know that road to recovery is a process but lately its been so challenging and I feel like such an emotional wreck. My anxiety has been up and my body image is super high right now. I mirror check every day, and pinch my fat daily to see if its getting less. I think a lot of my behaviors are driven by not having my scale. I used to weigh myself everyday. Since my scale has been taken away I feel that I am having a really hard time with it all. I have taken up watercolor to help with my stress and anxiety level. I feel that its helping but I still find myself thinking about my weight constantly. I feel hopeless but I think that I need to just continue to go to therapy in hopes that I will get over this hump soon!

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Athletes and ED

I consider myself an athlete. I have always been active. I played sports in high school even though I was the chubbiest girl on the teams I was on. I was still athletic and a gifted athlete. I played on a traveling softball team, I threw the shot and discus and played a couple years of Volleyball.  Only time that I was not active is when I really let my weight get out of control from all the bingeing. Those were the years between 2004 to about 2012. Eight long years of just putting my body through hell. Eating until I felt I was complete. If you put it in from of me I would eat it, but that didn’t come with regret.

After 2012 I began a new life but also a new eating disorder. I started to increase my activities and eating less. I want to call this the beginning of my purging years. I went from solely bingeing to adding purging to the mix. I was overexercising to the point that I would burn double the amount of calories that I would consume. And sometimes I would binge and either purge afterwards or go sweat it out at the gym. That was my routine for almost 5 years. These behaviors only escalated when emotional trauma and things happened in my life, that the cycle of only bingeing and not exercising started. I gained about 30 pounds got desperate and started using laxatives.

No matter what ED I had at the moment I feel it always was tied to my obsession of being perfect. To always wanting to be better, faster, thinner, leaner… because I was never this way when I was younger, I wanted it to never end.

In therapy I have met other athletes, and it helps to know that I am not alone and there are people who understand me and how I feel about myself. I found a post on Walden Eating Disorders Website, and it was about a competitive athlete who developed an eating disorder. You can follow the link above for the direct web page or read the post below.


I Was a Competitive Athlete with an Eating Disorder. Here’s What I Did About It.

My name is Andrea. I’ve been an elite, competitive runner for almost 20 years. I was a Division I scholarship athlete who became an All American and a national record holder in college.

I also developed an eating disorder.

I spent years working with professionals to restore my mental and physical health. It was that recovery work that allowed me to conquer obstacles both on the track and in my life. I learned invaluable lessons that helped me achieve a more balanced lifestyle. It’s these lessons that I want to share with you today.

First, to better understand the challenges I faced (which are undoubtedly familiar to thousands of other athletes), take a look at this article from Ryan Hall, a recently retired American elite long distance runner.

Ryan described his career in sport and the dangerous physical limitations he placed on himself to maintain such a high level of fitness for competition. This was something that hit home for me – I spent several years trying to regain enough weight to even be allowed to compete at the elite level of competition I had qualified for. Because of my eating disorder, I was so underweight that I was medically ineligible to compete with my team. I often felt a similar level of chronic fatigue that Ryan describes in his article. Ryan explains how all of his time and energy went into maintaining a physique lean enough to compete at a high level yet had no energy or stamina to enjoy other aspects of his life. Like Ryan, all I wanted to do was sleep after each training session. I could barely focus in class and had trouble managing my academic demands. Simply put: I lacked the physical, mental and nutritional balance my body required as an athlete.

I have been recovered from my eating disorder for seven years. I still train and compete. I have focused training days, I take rest days, and I find joy in being physically active pretty much every day. I also work a full time job and have made it a priority to appreciate other aspects of my life including time with family and friends (that I used to sacrifice to devote all of my time to being a lean mean running machine), foods that I used to consider off-limits (because I believed they’d hinder my training), nights out at the movies (I’d never allow in fear of not getting enough sleep to be my best at the next day’s training session), and so on and so forth.

I learned how to find balance in my life. It took lots of dedication and self-compassion, especially when addressing something as serious as an eating disorder. Today, I’m happy to share some life lessons with anyone who may be struggling (or knows someone else who is struggling) with disordered eating:

1). I stopped comparing myself to EVERYONE ELSE. There are things that make me different from others for a reason. If we were all the same, the world would not be as interesting. I have my own strengths and weaknesses; you have yours. I’ve learned to accept myself and not focus on how I stack up against other people’s strengths and weaknesses. As Dr. Seuss says, ‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.’

2). I let go of the idea that I have to be perfect. Athletes are some of the highest level perfectionists you will ever meet. I was no different. News flash: there is NO such thing as perfect! Once you accept that, you can embrace what makes you awesome!

3). I decided not to be afraid of change. I got stronger once I learned to change the habits that were holding me back. In my case, I was not eating enough to fuel the significant amount of training I was doing. With a lot of help (my next tip), I was able to change how I viewed food – as fuel that my body needed and deserved, instead of something I needed to control in order to be “perfect.” When my mindset changed, I became a much stronger athlete. ‘Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.’

4). I asked for help, and I accepted it when it was offered to me. Even if you don’t think you need it, keep an open mind. Know that there are people out there who care very much about you, want you to be well and want you to succeed. I constantly had people approaching me about my eating disorder (which I denied having at the time) and while it was hard to hear, I accepted help when it was offered. I had an amazing support system of family, friends, coaches, fellow athletes, therapists, nutritionists, and physicians who wanted to see me achieve success in my sport without hurting my body. Even today if I feel as though I am struggling, I reach out to one (or more) of them to help remind me of how far I’ve come and just how strong I am.

I know that there are periods of time when I may struggle, but I also know that now I have the skills to overcome them just as I have before. I’m sure Ryan Hall has reminiscent thoughts of his elite level competition days and wonders if he should return to old habits, just as I have thoughts of my past experiences and wonder if I’m doing all of the right things now in my life. This is when I remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned, the people in my life who I can talk to, the reality that I am unique but incredibly strong thanks to everything I have overcome, and the confidence that I will continue to make changes to sustain balance in my life.

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Andrea Walkonen is a special contributor and spokesperson for Walden Behavioral Care. She is a former three-time All American in Cross Country and Indoor and Outdoor Track. Most recently, she qualified for and participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, Women’s Marathon

 

Article Credit: Walden Eating Disorders website. 

 


Do you have scale attachment issues… Yes!

Nauseous, sweaty, uneasy, depressed, feeling void, are all things that I was going through yesterday. I had a heavy day. Started off the day with meeting the new manager they hired for our division. I was feeling anxious about meeting her but I didn’t try to let it bother me too much. At first thought was that maybe she was young and very bubbly. I guess that was a good thing. But after talking to her for a bit before heading off the to a new application training, I found out that this girl had no clue what she was getting herself into. She had absolutely NO healthcare experience. I started to feel worried and a bit confused as to why they would hire someone with NO experience in a healthcare setting. But I guess that’s why I am not in management and will never know why they do the things they do.

I was happy that I was able to leave my office and take a short walk to the training session. It gave me a chance to relax and not think of what was happening at work with the new manager. It all seemed to be going well until after lunch… It appeared that I was had a panic attack! I couldn’t understand why I was getting one. I was trying to figure out the logic as to why… but couldn’t quite pin point it since there is a lot going on around this day. Not only did we get a new manager that didn’t know anything about what she was going to start doing. But today was going to be the day that I turned in my scale at therapy.

I thought that I was going to be okay and tried to not think too much about it during the day. But I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking about it. And that could have been the reason that I lost it and went into panic mode. I am somewhat proud of myself that I was able to control the panic attack from going full-fledged. I was able to talk my self down and just breathe through it. It’s weird that I would have such attachment to a scale. Like why is this scale causing me so much sadness and anxiety. Why is it having such control over me? It’s just an object! Why??? I can’t explain why I broke down when I handed off to the therapist, or why I starting sobbing when they asked how I was doing in process group. There was no way for me to explain how I was feeling. I let go and gave up something that I used everyday and something that defined me. For some crazy reason I felt I let go part of me. I am still trying to process this today. Trying to understand the reasoning but I don’t have an answer. I just hope that I am able to move forward and that I will be able to feel empowered that the scale no longer has control over me.