Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sophia

"Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical."

-Sophia Loren

My dietitian, Laura, always stresses how important it is for people to admire celebrities that are similar to themselves. She asserts that it is human nature to like ourselves, and that when we fawn over celebrities whose beauty is different than our own, we can stifle that natural liking. It is important to see the beauty in what we have, and that is how celebrities can be helpful: they reaffirm what we already find beautiful in ourselves.

Now, I'm DEFINITELY not going so far as to say I think I look like Sophia Loren (though I THINK she and I have similar measurements...hmmm....), but I have always felt a certain connection to the female stars and pin-ups of the 50s, 60s and even 70s. For the most part, these women (Sophia Loren, Marylin Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Bettie Page, etc), while still certainly small people, were far more voluptuous/curvaceous/Amazonian than a lot of the celebrities we see today. They look like real women who know how to exploit their god-given attributes (and don't starve themselves to do so).

I can look at images of these women and not get down on myself...while their beauty is certainly as unattainable as the photoshopped images plastering the pages of People, I can appreciate the beauty and femininity of my own curves.

In a lot of ways, Sophia Loren is a pretty positive role model in the field of body-image. While she got ridiculously lucky in the looks department, so much of her sex appeal came from her confidence and her own belief she was beautiful. I like that.

And you can tell she didn't force her body to do something it wasn't supposed to just to achieve someone else's 'standard.'


"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."



"Being beautiful can never hurt, but you have to have more. You have to sparkle, you have to be fun, you have to make your brain work if you have one."

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."



"I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn't and it really doesn't have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips."

"If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful."



"My philosophy is that it's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe and not to explore at all."

(All quotes by Sophia Loren)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PS

I HAVE SO MUCH FOOD INSIDE OF ME ITS NOT EVEN FUNNY.













But perhaps it should stay there...?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Program

Treatment is never as simple as we make it out to be in our heads.

I started attending the Eating Disorder Program at St. Joe's on Monday of this week (I found out I had insurance authorization on Friday). I'm relieved and frustrated and suffocated and secure all at the same time. 6 hours of therapy a day can wear on a person, especially when everyone is trying to pry your fingers off of something you are:

a) not quite ready to give up yet and,

b) convinced on some level that it is keeping you afloat, keeping you alive.


Already, I'm back on a meal plan, back on scheduled journaling, back on weekly weight checks, and back on meds. Its a blessing and a curse. When you have an ED you need structure. But, the more structure you have, the more your disordered brain fights it. It feels strangled and starts clawing its way to the surface.

Program gives me a safe place to go for 6 hours a day though...those are 6 hours that I would easily be spending at home either not eating or eating too much and then compensating. The question is, what do I do for those 18 other hours where I am not safe? Where my ED can get me at any time?

I guess that's why we're there-to answer that question. What do we do instead of ED?

Perhaps the most frustrating part in all of this is that I am faced with triggers every day when I'm there: emaciated bodies, girls that don't want to get better, food, and feelings. ugh. Thinness and an unwillingness to recover are probably the two most triggering things on the planet for me, and now I'm facing that daily, AND I'm having food forced down my throat and having to dredge up emotions I've stifled for years. This makes my brain scream "SHUT UP AND BE SKINNY!"

Ultimately, I have a choice to make.

And my choice is this:



Or this:



Yeah ok, no contest. Recovery is definitely much, much prettier.


Tomorrow is Family Day. This will be the third time I've forced my sister to come and sit there for two hours and listen to the dietitian and therapist say the same thing every single time :) I am lucky to have her in my recovery.

Couldn't get my mom to come, though. Hopefully, next time.





Always hoping.




P.S. This is the best resource for ED literature on the planet. If its about eating, its here: http://www.bulimia.com/index.cfm

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thin (*Trigger Warning*)

I don't have much to say about this. Thin, dir. Lauren Greenfield, is one of the best HBO documentaries produced to date...I used to be obsessed with it when I was first starting my disorder. I can watch it now with a clearer head, but I can still understand where these women are coming from...This film gives great insight into the treatment process,and also into how the disordered mind works. I know it's long, but its more than worth it. Its just a well-made piece of cinema that happens to speak to the theme of this blog.























Everything these women have said, I've said. Everything these women have thought, I've thought. Eating Disorders can be a very uniform experience. But, truth be told, I see non-disordered women acting out the exact same roles, playing the same parts. More and more I see ED becoming something mainstream.

Don't you see yourself in them?

I don't mean for this post to be negative...quite the opposite, actually. I applaud anyone who takes the initiative to go into treatment, even when the experience is as difficult as what was documented. I think the more we can debunk the 'glamor' and 'mystique' of eating disorders, the better. And this is one way of doing so.

Oh, and so is this: http://www.accesshollywood.com/Polly-Williams-Of-HBOs-Thin-Found-Dead_article_8390

I'm sorry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

some days...

...i'm just not sure i have it in me to recover. i'm not sure that i actually want to.

today is one of those days.

there's just something seductive about being sick. and at least i know i'm good at it. maybe too good?



Friday, December 4, 2009

Crystal Renn

I know I already posted today, but I am in love with this model and I want to make sure everyone has access to her images. She is fucking gorgeous. And she actually looks like a woman.

She went from (being miserable and) forcing herself to look like this:


To figuring out how to LISTEN TO HER BODY and looking like this (and becoming one of the highest paid American models working today):


Apologies for the picture overload, but I just can't get over how infatuated I am with this individual. She is a fantastic model because she is confident and healthy. That's where her beauty comes from. She hasn't made her career out of being the token plus-size; she's made her career out of being damn good at her job.

And if you can stand to sit through something that's been ghost-written, I recommend her book, Hungry, which has been recently published. If you like the fashion industry but feel alienated from it, her book makes you feel like there's a place for you somewhere in there.

I Thought Thanksgiving Was Over...

At what point do you decide to stop eating? After so many calories? So many bites? When you get that first signal of impending fullness? Or are you like terrible comedian Louis C.K. who states, "I don't stop eating when I'm full. The meal is not over when I'm full. The meal is over when I hate myself." Do you stop eating when you're about to experience gastric rupture?








I thought about including a picture of gastric rupture, but that was too gross. Here is Louis CK instead. Perhaps just as off-putting...?



I think I have some sort of addiction to the feeling of fullness. Whether I'm eating to binge or just eating because I'm hungry and need food, it is really difficult to not cross that line between 'satiated' and 'miserably, horribly full.' And seriously, fuck that fact of biology that it takes 20 minutes for your body to realize its signals of fullness. My body needs to learn to catch up with the speed with which my hand moves from plate to mouth.

For some reason, and I'm sure I'm not the only one here, I am terribly comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortably full. When I'm binging, that's the state I'm trying to reach. The stomach distention, the physical discomfort, the acid reflux, all of it. It feels familiar. It feels safe. It assures me that I can stop eating. I mean, I pretty much have to unless I want to begin packing food down my throat with a cannon rammer:



Yeah, that looks unpleasant.

So how do we know when to stop? ESPECIALLY WHEN FOOD JUST TASTES SO GODDAMN GOOD???

I have to relearn how to evaluate my hunger and fullness...relearn the signals, the ratings, etc etc...

Fuck.

As odd as it sounds, when you spend a lot of time not eating or overeating or yo-yo dieting or binging and purging or doing any other screwed up eating related behavior, you physically lose the ability to recognize your body's true signals of hunger and fullness.

At program, we have to breathe, relax, and focus on our bodies for a few moments before eating and rate our hunger level on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being starving, 5 being neutral, and 10 being sickly full). The first time I was there, I was always embarrassed by the fact that I was rating my hunger around the '3' level while most other people managed to control theirs around a '6'. Liars!!

But they're not actually lying. They just can't recognize the signals.

Just like I have trouble recognizing fullness signals. But the process is the same. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Pay attention. Assess.

Our bodies don't actually want to feel this uncomfortable. That's why being so full feels so bad. We don't need that much food, I guess.

So, bottom line, we gotta learn to listen to our bodies. Easy, right?

P.S. Fun fact! Your body needs a little fat intake in order to recognize that it is feeling full! That's why 'fat-free' diets don't work. Your body will want you to eat more because it can't tell its full. So eat your goddamn almonds or your butter and shut up!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Wants to See Something Awful? (*Trigger Warning*)

Thinspiration...probably one of the most moronic terms ever coined. A portmanteau of "thin" and "inspiration," thinspiration consists of photos of either emaciated or obese individuals, in hopes of inspiring or motivating the observer. We (the disordered) all claim to hate it, but the truth is, we all crave it.

When I was my sickest, I spent way too much time scanning Google Images or even Myspace for images of underweight chicks. Severely underweight chicks. Like, disgustingly so. At my worst, something like this would be "thinspiring:"





Yeah. I know.

The pictures we use for thinspiration are not pretty. I know that now. Illness isn't beautiful. I was once told that, "it's biological fact that you are your most beautiful when you're at your healthiest." When your ribs are sticking out of your chest, you're not at your healthiest. Period. I'm figuring out (slowly) what is beautiful and what is illness.

For example:


Six months ago, the image on the right was my ideal. I called that beauty. I wanted that. Now, with clearer vision and a clearer head, I can appreciate the curves on the image on the left. That is health. That is beauty.

I don't need thinspiration anymore. I see it for what it is. But I still look. Of course I do. It's a train wreck and I don't want to stop looking. Part of me is fascinated by what I used to find so inspiring. I'm looking for what I used to be able to see, because it isn't there anymore. I see images a bunch of girls that are a lot sicker than me and who should be looking at me for inspiration.

Oh, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some commonly used "thinspo" and, uh, debunk it?

A lot of images we use to inspire ourselves, it turns out, are grossly photoshopped. Not airbrushed, photoshopped beyond all recognition. Wanna see?

Here's some images you'll typically see on any pro-ana site:




Ok. Maybe to a non-disordered mind, it is easy to see that these are fakes. And they are. Various sources (Snopes included) have debunked these images as extreme photoshop jobs. But, when you're in the thick of the disorder, these images seem attainable. You strive for this. And eventually, even these images are too fat for you.



I'm really not sure who thinks creating these sickly images is a good idea. To me, these are malicious and, when you're sick in the head, dangerous. Truth is, while these photoshopped images look extreme, they're not that far from the truth. That's probably the worst part.



This image hasn't been photoshopped. And there are thousands more where this came from. And probably thousands more on their way.

And where are we supposed to fit into all of this?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Instant Replay

So I am attempting to re-enroll in the treatment program I attended for six months about a year and a half ago at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange. I already quit my job and am arranging my school schedule so I can fit it in. A lot of people would say this is the wrong way to go about it...A friend of mine recently gave me the advice that:

"I think you should go balls out if you go back. I mean treatment treatment treatment until there's nothing left to cure. :-)" (Note that I actually think this is solid advice and I am not maligning the advice-giver in any way!)

And when I went to my first Eating Disorders Anonymous group meeting (which I will never go back to), I was advised to basically drop everything and go inpatient, because:

(In response to me saying I need the structure of school) "You need recovery, too" *patronizing smile*

But I'm thinking that dropping everything and going inpatient isn't the way for me to go. I mean, it would be great to be completely cut off from ED symptoms for an extended period of time, but I think giving up my life would be more triggering than helpful.

I need some normalcy. I need to keep my life going. If I stop my life, then hasn't the ED won in a way?

If I stay in school and do Intense Outpatient and still see my friends and walk my dog and buy groceries and do chores and manage to recover, isn't that just as powerful, if not more so, than dropping everything and running off to Renfrew?

I'm not knocking Inpatient Treatment. I know it works wonders. But I don't want it.

I'm not building my recovery around my life. I'm not building my life around my ED. I'm building my life around my recovery. I'm maintaining some modicum of normalcy.

But goddamn do I want the structure again. Cross your fingers...insurance may not authorize me to go back.

In case any of you are interested in what a typical week of Intensive Outpatient treatment looks like, here you go:

http://www.montecatinieatingdisorder.com/op_adult_schedule.php

St. Joe's program is a bit more intensive than that (M-F 9:30-3:30 with A LOT of talk therapy), but you get the picture.

In the beginning...

I don't know who you are that is reading this but first things first: I have an eating disorder.

Yep.

Notice I didn't say "I'm anorexic" or "I'm bulimic." You wouldn't say, "I'm cancerous" or "I'm heart diseased."

I have an eating disorder. have. Not am.

And just so you know, I'm taking steps to make that 'have' a 'had.'

I'm not here to bitch and complain about all the people that called me fat or how much I hated myself or the first time I stuck my fingers down my throat. I'm here to trace the timeline of my recovery process.

Eating disorders are wildly misunderstood. But I am also not here to educate you or lecture you or persuade you. I'm just here to give a voice to my recovery process.

Too much literature by people with eating disorders focuses on the brunt of the illness, the sickest times, the near death experiences, the hospitalizations and interventions. While it's all very interesting, it doesn't help anyone. It's scary and it makes eating disorders (which I will refer to as ED) even more mysterious and glamorous and intangible.

But everyone's got it in them. Somewhere and in some manifestation, even if it's not with food. Everyone can relate to not feeling good enough.

And therefore, everyone can hopefully relate to me, to the process of figuring out how to feel good.