What I Learned After Recovering From An Eating Disorder

What I Learned After Recovering From An Eating Disorder

Recovery is a daily battle but I promise it is worth it, you are worth it.
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Living a life worth living.

Finding Freedom.

Eating disorders are not about food. Eating disorders provide control. They have strict rules and routines. These rules become so embedded in us that the fear of living without them is terrifying. But in order to find recovery we must go against every rule Ed has ever made. Defy Ed. Refuse to partake in his deadly game. By doing this you will find your freedom. Freedom from Ed is worth the daily fight. It is worth the tears and frustration of feeling out of control and without a vice to keep you grounded. You have spent all of recovery feeling every negative, hurtful emotion to get here I promise it won’t last forever. So please fight, you are worth it. Freedom is worth it.

Finding Positive Coping Mechanisms.

Eating disorders are not about food. They help us cope with strong emotions that most of us do not want to feel. They help us control uncontrollable situations. They help us feel or not feel. They are effective as quick fix coping strategies for short periods of time. Although this quick fix seems to work at the time, it eventually creates new and bigger problems. The hardest discovery when beginning recovery is finding healthy coping mechanisms to replace the old ones. Temptations pull at us to use old and toxic quick fixes. But when we find positive ways to handle the pain, the reward of health and life is incredible. My journey in recovery lead me to art. With a pen and paper I find my control. I feel my emotions as I am consumed by the art in front of me. There are so many other positive ways to cope such as: running, singing, doing yoga, playing music, talking to friends, watching TV, or trying something new. Find your way; don’t get stuck with using your eating disorder, Ed, to cope. Find healthy ways, they are out there and they are worth it.

Take Up Space.

You are valued. You have worthy and you are more than enough. Be a presence and make an impact. Take up space in this world and do something with it. Truly use your body to live and not just exist. This lesson was hard for me to learn. I am a tall girl. And growing up I used to hate my height. I used to wish to be smaller so I could hide and blend into the background. One of the greatest lessons I learned in recovery is walking with my head up and shoulders back. Making all five foot eight inches of me seen. As a women we are taught to be delicate and fragile. But now, recovery had taught me to want to be strong and healthy. I want to take up all five foot eight inches of the world around me. Take up your space, do not be afraid to fill it.

Find Beauty in Imperfections.

You are beautiful. Every part of you. You don't have to be perfect. So find beautify in imperfection. Find artistry in uniqueness. And find strength in scars. Surviving is beautiful. Truly living life and not just existing is beautiful. Laugh lines and belly rolls are beautiful because it shows how much you have lived! Once you find your beauty don’t be afraid to celebrate it!

Stop Body Checking.

Before recovery, mirrors were my worst enemy. I would look at my reflection and zero in on the extra chub around the stomach or the jiggle in my thighs. When I looked in the mirror I became my biggest bully. I would say horrible things, putting myself down for the way I looked. The way I talked to myself was absolutely unlike anything I would ever say to another human being. During recovery a friend of mine taught me a lesson that I have kept with me. When you look in the mirror, look straight into your eyes. In your eyes, see your intelligence and strength. Instead of criticizing your body look into your eyes and see your soul.

Be Kind to Yourself.

You are never going to speak more to another person than you do to yourself in your own head. So treat yourself how you would treat others. Respect and be kind to yourself. You are still healing, it is OK to make mistakes and it is OK to take time for yourself.

Relapse Does Not End Recovery.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in recovery is relapse happens. We’re not perfect. We have to remember that we chose this vice because it gave us something. It was addictive because it provided a release. We used it to survive and cope for so long. So be kind and understanding to yourself, set back happens. It is OK. This does not mean your spiraling again. Give yourself a break and start again the next day.

Connecting With Family and Friends Again.

In the thick of illness it is common to avoid positive people in your life. Sometimes I found myself avoiding people in general. It was just me and my eating disorder, Ed. He became my only support and slowly isolated me from friends and family. But in treatment when I broke away from him and found my voice again, I saw what it was like to surround myself with loving people. I found that in recovery we all have loved ones that have been here the whole time, fighting for us every day, to be healthy. And sometimes that in itself is the reason we push them away, because we ourselves do not want to be saved. But trust me, being on the other side. Choose life. Choose family and friends. Stop pushing the people away who would do the most for you; because you never know they might just say your life.

Waking Up Hopeful and Thankful.

Ever hear of the metaphor, glass half full or glass half empty? I was a glass half empty kind of girl growing up. As I got older and my depression became worse, that glass got emptier and emptier until one day I woke up and it was completely empty. Recovery has taught me how to see the glass half full, by filling it every morning with positive thoughts. Each morning before getting out of bed, think of three things you are thankful for and two things you are excited or hopeful for. It changes your entire day by starting off with reasons why you are thankful to be alive.

Find your happiness.

Eating disorders are not about food. Eating disorders make us feel nothing. They make us feel numb so we do not have to feel the pain of living. Recovery has helped me find my happiness again and it has rediscovered my belly laugh. The greatest feeling is when something funny strikes you and you laugh so hard that no sound really comes out and you’re laughing so hard you are almost hyperventilating and suddenly it all comes out in a little snort? Ever feel that kind of laughter? You should. Find someone or something that makes you laugh with your whole face. I contribute a lot of my recovery to my boyfriend, David. He met me during the hardest time of my life, but he ended up being the one to save my life. Ever since I met him I have never laughed harder or been happier. Every laugh and token of happiness takes me one step further from the temptations of Ed and towards a life of happiness and freedom. Finding reasons to live a fulfilling life is what recovery is all about, I hope you rediscover your belly laugh.

Recovery is freedom. Recovery replaces unhealthy coping with healthy coping. Recovery encourages us to take up space. Recovery finds beauty in imperfections. Recovery replaces body checking with soul searching. Recovery teaches us to be kind to ourselves. Recovery teaches us to survive the relapses and how to move on from them. Recovery reconnects us with our loved ones. Recovery replaces depression and self-hate with gratitude and hope. Recovery is happiness. Recovery is worth it. You are worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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9 Reasons Why You Should 100% Get That Body Modification You Want

Changing your body is never a bad thing and people need to learn to embrace that.

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I'm a woman with 27 piercings and 4 tattoos and honestly, I don't plan on stopping at that. There are many more body modifications I look forward to getting and I'm gonna rock the f*ck out of them.

1. It's your body

The most important thing is the fact that it is YOUR body. You should be able to do whatever you want with it, whether that means adding a few extra holes, making your arm an art piece, or adding horns to your head. You do you, boo boo.

2. Express yourself

Again, it's your body and you should be able to express yourself. If you want bright pink hair and a face tattoo you should do it. Let the world know that you are happy, adventurous, and daring.

3. They're fun

Changing yourself can be super fun. I have gotten numerous compliments on my piercings/tattoos and only a few "you know that's permanent, right?" remarks. Usually, after the compliment, the person goes "I wanted to get *insert something that you think is cool* but I can't because my job/parent/partner won't allow me to. Adding a new addition to your body honestly has this freeing effect. It's something you have to feel, it can't be explained.

4. A lot of jobs don't care anymore

Piggy backing off of the previous reason; loads of jobs no longer care about your tattoos or piercings (as long as they aren't offensive in which case they must be covered)! If you work with food they might ask you to switch to a hoop or a stud depending on their policy but honestly, it's worth it.

5. It could become a focal point

How many of you don't like something on your body? Probably a majority, and I'm right there with you. Why not get a tattoo to cover up that scar you're so insecure about? Why not get that piercing to draw the attention away from how big your ears are? It's very beneficial and also a great conversation starter in the moment.

6. You've been dying to get it

So you really want that body modification, then why not get it?! Splurge a little and treat yourself. The best reason to get something is if you want it, there's literally no better reason.

7. It would look soooo good on you

Maybe you have the perfect ears for a triple forward helix (ask a piercer how often that happens and then you'll be impressed with yourself) or your nose is literally the perfect shape for a piercing. People have probably told you a thousand times that something would look great on you, so why not try it out?

8. It could remind you of a happy memory

Maybe you want a tattoo in honor of a loved one that passed away. Or maybe you want one for a special event. Whatever your happy memory is, I suggest you get it. There's nothing more special than dedicating a piece of your body to something/someone. (name tattoos are not recommended)

9. Some of the nicest people I have ever met have body mods

People with tattoos, piercings, and colored hair are NOT scary. Most of them are honestly so sweet and caring. Getting that body modification you want might open your eyes to the real people around you.

Yeah maybe some people in your life will be a little upset that you got some form of body modification, but the people who really matter will get over it and still love you afterward. It's okay if you're completely clueless if you have an idea of what you want any real professional artist will be able to make your ideas come to life. Shout out to my tattoo artist and piercer for dealing with me, you guys have been great, really. So go for it! Get that body mod or don't, it's your body! Just live a little! And for goodness' sake, tip your artist!!

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