The New Year marks almost two years that my blog has been online. 2012 saw a lot of new visitors, and as I did last year, here are some of my favorite posts of 2012!
1) January 13, 2012: Smash Your Scale (And Anything Else Holding You Back!)
One of my favorite posts, and also one of my favorite stories to tell. The avatar for my blog (the smashed scale up in the corner) isn’t some stock photo – it’s actually the scale I smashed back in 2005 behind the alley of my first apartment.
“I can’t really understate how good it felt to smash that evil contraption. It was one of the biggest enablers of the eating disorder, and there was no way I could pretend that I was going to get better and still keep it around.”
2) February 6, 2012: Continue reading
Filed under Activism, Review
In case you missed it last night, I had a last-minute invitation by the Huffington Post to join a discussion on the public perception of eating disorders! Also featured in the video are Claire Glass, a blogger who recently shared a story about her grandmtother’s life-long eating disorder, and two treatment professionals, Kim Dennis and Laura Discipio.
You can watch below:
Claire’s story is particularly moving and important, since, along with people “like me” who don’t fit the stereotypical perception of who can have an eating disorder, elderly people are often underrepresented or invisible in the conversation. You can read the full write-up about her grandmother here.
Special thanks to Jenny Churchill and everyone at Huffington Post Live for handling this subject so seriously and taking the time to talk about it! Responsible journalism is incredibly important when talking about eating disorders, because it’s already such a sensitive subject that it can be easy to make sensationalist stories which have shock value but lack substance. Both for this segment and another article I was interviewed for last year, they have an excellent track record!
PS – I’m on Google+ now. I don’t quite get it yet, but don’t let that stop you from adding me to your circles or squares.
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If you’ve been through recovery, I’m wondering – how has your recovery been impacted (positively, negatively?) when the recovery culture dialogue turns to the almighty? It seems to happen a lot, and there’s a lot of faith-based stuff out there. And if that helps you recover, then I’m all for it! Everyone’s recovery will look a little different and be unique to them, and hope can be found in many different forms.
But for nonbelievers, the prevalence of religious language in recovery can present an additional hurdle – I know it did for me. Early in my recovery, before I got into more structured group therapy with a counselor, I was attending Twelve-Step groups that focused on eating disorders/disordered eating. I couldn’t recommend them for everyone, but it was what I needed at the time. I had hit an all-time low, and a friend told me about a group that met less than two miles away from where I lived downtown. I went the very next day, desperate for anything that might assuage the constant misery and physical discomfort I was in.
I honestly thought that I was going to go there, they would tell me what to do, I would do it and I would get better – just like going to the doctor and getting a prescription. I quickly found out that that wasn’t the case. But what I did find was a new perspective and a sense of hope – the people there spoke about their struggles with honesty and clarity, as well as an unexpected humility. One of the things emphasized in all Twelve-Step fellowships is admitting you don’t have control over everything, and as you work through that it can really give you some room to breathe. However, part of that admitting you don’t have control everything (a notion that often clashes with our Western sense of independence and individuality – but I challenge you to sneeze with your eyes open or to prevent the sun from setting) is turning that control over to a “Higher Power.”
Currently Reading: Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Currently listening: Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
Sometimes beauty is skin deep – like when it comes in the form of beautiful artwork commemorating a commitment to being healthy and happy through the work of recovery. My own recovery tattoo got me thinking – who else out there has some sweet recovery art? I’ll start us off, and then I’m excited to share some of the really great reader submissions that I received!
My Own Recovery Tattoo:
My recovery tattoo was my first tattoo. I got it over the summer of 2005, when I was 22 and had been in recovery for about two years. February of that year, I smashed the scale I had been using in the alley behind my first apartment with a triumphant and cathartic anger (the avatar for my blog, Twitter, etc. is an actual photo of my smashed scale!). The scale had become a physical representation of the otherwise invisible tormentor known as anorexia, an altar upon which my self-worth was constantly debated. I had been making strides in recovery and was doing very well, but I kept coming back to the scale. In February 2005, I hadn’t weighed myself in months. I came across it, and, in a moment of weakness and curiosity, stepped back on it.
In my last post about Lobby Day, I mentioned a story shared at the Congressional Briefing by mother Tracy Smith, who’s daughter Reanna died from her eating disorder while waiting for treatment. Tracy has agreed to let me share her testimony here to further spread the truth about the severity and life threatening reality of eating disorders. I’m deeply grateful to Tracy for her courage and willingness to share this story, and hope that others will learn from it.
Please note that some of the specifics regarding her daughter’s death may be difficult to hear and are rather emotional, and if you are in recovery from an eating disorder, please take care of yourself while reading.
The following speech was given by Tracy Smith on Capitol Hill on April 24, 2012, at a Congressional Briefing held by the Eating Disorders Coalition as testimony to advocate for the passage of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act.
Tracy Smith testifies on behalf of her daughter.
It has been seventeen months since my baby was taken.
My Family has been devastated by an eating disorder in the worst way possible. On Nov 15, 2010, my Daughter lost her life to an eating disorder. In less than twenty-three months this disease came into our lives and took over my child. Physically, mentally emotionally and in every aspect that you can imagine. Due to misdiagnoses by her pediatrician, lack of education and no coverage for her condition by medical insurance we were alone in the very short battle!
This is Reanna Yvette’s Story.
Currently Reading: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Suzuki Roshi
Currently Listening: Minor Threat’s Complete Discography
Along with people being surprised that I used to have an eating disorder (“Really? You?”), I also get surprised reactions when I tell people I don’t drink.
Nope. When I was 15, some of my friends started experimenting with drugs and sneaking downtown to parties to drink with older friends. I didn’t share their intrinsic interest in trying these things, but eventually went along and participated a few times because I was starting to feel left out. My lack of interest in substance use often translated into not being invited to hang out, because people knew I didn’t want to be around it.
After a few times giving it a shot, I decided I really had no desire to ever partake in any of it. I didn’t like not feeling like myself, and I didn’t like the way people acted when they were intoxicated. For a little while, this made me feel like an outcast. I think some of my friends felt judged by my decision, which wasn’t intentional but was sort of unavoidable.
Currently Reading: The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
Currently Listening: On The Impossible Past by The Menzingers
We don’t always reach our goals. Sometimes that’s because they weren’t realistic to begin with (I swear some day I’m going to keep my eyes open while sneezing) and sometimes it’s because things just didn’t work out.
Following my successful half marathon last November, I planned on running the spectacle that is Richmond’s Monument 10k. If you’re from RVA, you know the race well whether you run it or not, because if you aren’t participating in it, the 10k probably ruins any and every attempt to navigate the city until well into the afternoon. Continue reading
So, it’s been awhile since I posted. After the non-stop posts of February, I took a hiatus which ended up being a little longer than I planned. Thanks for your patience!
the past week I was riding along on tour with my friend’s band. I got the whole week off work and we had dates in DC, Philadelphia, and New York City. A number of unexpected problems the day before we left almost prevented us from even leaving town, but we were finally on the road Sunday afternoon and made it in time for the first show. Everything was going fine until the van broke down about 20 miles into Maryland. After a couple hours standing in the heat on an exit ramp and a couple more at a mechanic, there wasn’t any other choice but to try to get back to Richmond. They ended up renting a van to make it to the rest of their tour dates, but with all of the instruments there wasn’t room for non-essential people like myself.
Talk about a buzz kill. I had the whole week off work and didn’t really feel like going in, but I didn’t want to waste vacation time either. I ended up taking a day road tripping to visit a friend, and spent a lot of time with another friend who’s moving cross-country really soon, so it wasn’t a total waste.
I finally got to see Miss Representation last night, courtesy of a local event for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Released in late 2011, it’s a film exploring the role of women in our society and what we can do to change the disparities that exist.
It’s easy to hear about such a film and say, “But so much progress has been made!” While this is true, and yes, progress continue to be made, it’s slowed down more than you think. I’m not always one to tout statistics, but some of the figures they’ve researched are quite startling. For example:
- The average teenager consumes roughly 10 hours, 45 minutes of media per day, between television, movies, the internet, and music, the majority of which is TV watching.
- Of that media consumed, women own less than 6% of TV stations and roughly 6% of radio stations. The board members of the biggest media companies (such as Viacom, Time Warner, etc) systematically outnumber women by more than 2-1, so most of the media being produced and approved is from rich men.
- Women make up 51% of our population at present, but are only 17% of Congress (even I was surprised by how low that number is).
Mad yet? You should be.
Way back in 2004, I made a big decision. I got out of class one night and drove from the city back to my parents’ house with the intention of telling them I had an eating disorder. It was rather spontaneous, although it had been in the back of my mind for months. Having had inconsistent luck with friends when seeking support, I wanted to try and avoid those same pitfalls when speaking with my family.
I had found an article on a website that seemed perfect – it was something I wished I could make everyone read before they tried to talk about eating disorders. I printed it out and stuck it in my backpack, where it stayed for weeks, just in case I needed it. When I finally got home, I handed the print-out to my mother and asked her to read it and to not say anything until she had.