Progress

Guess what? If you actually follow your meal plan and eat consistently throughout the day, you don’t get overly hungry or full and there is balance! While this may seem intuitive to most people, it is something I needed to be reminded of. Yesterday I followed my meal plan for the first time in a couple of months and I am working on showing my dietician that between now and in two weeks when I see her, that I can follow my plan and hold myself accountable. While I was proud of what I accomplished yesterday and what I am accomplishing today, it remains a difficult mind game. I feel a bit dismayed and the eating disorder likes to think I am a failure. Although I know my weight didn’t drastically change overnight, my body image is shit today. I am going to trust my body and my dietician and follow this damn plan for the next two weeks and see how it goes. I know it is likely some things will be discussed and adjusted at that time, but for now all I can do is try. More than half the battle with me is the actual planning. It is way easier to go about my day and ignore meals all together until later, so stopping to eat seems like a great annoyance. I realize though that actually planning things out ahead of time helps the day go smoother in the end. Like today for example, instead of restricting and putting off lunch or spending a lot of wasted time trying to decide what I should or shouldn’t eat, I have my lunch in the fridge and when my reminder goes off to stop and eat I will. No extra thought involved. I am also working towards increasing my water intake, especially on rest days because I tend to only drink a lot of water during workouts. I am writing this on paper so to speak in order to continue to hold myself accountable. I don’t tend to be vocal about when I struggle, but writing helps to keep me on track. Hope everyone else is having a great day and if you are struggling to stay on your meal plan know that you aren’t alone and we can do this. Just keep moving forward because you will never know the outcome unless you push. I have a feeling that staying on a plan will have a very positive outcome in my life especially mentally.

Fighting Fires

Saturday was the first time in a long time where I actually dreaded going to therapy and I literally had to drag myself there and talk myself out of canceling on several occasions. Now I am sitting here talking myself into making an appointment with my dietitian. I am writing a recovery update because the more you talk about something the less power and control it has over your life. Recovery is an ever evolving process that I have recently taken for granted. I enjoyed a season of life for most of last year where recovery wasn’t taking up much space in my mind and I felt true freedom. Recently it has been quite the opposite and I have been coming to terms with that. Having to wake up and constantly battle myself is exhausting. I forgot how exhausting. The reality is I know that the eating disorder will never be a solution and this is just another season of life and I will grit my teeth and make it by. Talking to people, being honest with my treatment team, making an effort to meal plan….all these things help put out that fire.

Gratitude for Hours well Spent

I am exhausted. Not in the bad – I can’t get out of bed, hate life kind of exhausted. The – I have been so busy out living life that I am exhausted. It is a nice change from the first. I am faced with a lot of work to get done because I have put that work aside for more favorable experiences. Yes I have deadlines, everyone does in life, but sometimes it is better to not spend hours being a perfectionist trying to get the perfect grade. I rarely used to procrastinate. I don’t recommend it all the time, but having to stay up later a few nights over the past few weeks was well worth it. All the little experiences from a super bowl parade to hiking with my dogs have made me genuinely happy. It has been awhile since I have done a gratitude list, but I really think it is important when things are going well in life to write things down to return to on those not so great days.

  1. Football. I am sad that the season is over, but finishing with a super bowl win was worth every up and down during the season. Football is more than just a sport to me. It brings my friends and family together. It also brings the community together and I know everyone will continue to celebrate well into the summer.
  2. Fresh air. My boyfriend and I took our dogs on a hike out around a secluded lake for Valentine’s Day. There is no other feeling in the world like getting outside and being surrounded by nature. I tend to forget how soothing being outside is, even if it is only for a few moments in the backyard. I am hoping to go snow shoeing for the first time in the next couple weeks as well which will be an amazing experience. I am definitely yearning for warmer weather too for more hikes and camping.
  3. People.   Usually I am more of an introvert and a lot of people tend to get on my nerves, but lately that has been changing. I credit working with cancer survivors because I get to meet and interact with new clients on a weekly basis. It has really opened my eyes to how every one of us is truly an individual with unique talents and experiences. I have learned a lot through observation and really listening to people. When I stop to actually listen to someone and understand what they are saying I tend to have a more positive interaction. We all want to be heard, but it is rare to listen and remove your thoughts and judgements. I encourage everyone to practice empathy on a daily basis.
  4. Family. This really goes without saying, but I grateful every moment for the support and encouragement from those around me.
  5. My health. I am grateful that I can get out and be active and enjoy the things I love with the people I love. A lot of times we take for granted what our bodies actually do for us.       There were times in my life where I could barely get around my house, especially after the spinal fusion, and now I am physically in the best shape of my life because I am healthy. For one I am nourishing myself and two I know when to rest and take it easy.       Injury and sickness give me a very cut and dry perspective of how precious my health and physical body are to me. You only get one, take care of it.

What are one or two things you are grateful for today?

Lost Muffins

I found myself incredibly frustrated the other morning. I was driving to school and reached over into my bag where earlier that morning I had placed two homemade blueberry muffins and to my astonishment (and instant irritation) they were nowhere to be found! I got to school and searched the entire car even though I knew it was illogical they could have made their way to the backseat. And the moment I gave into reality that they were nowhere near me, my boyfriend texted me a picture with a question mark and a picture of my lovely muffins in their bag in the middle of my living room floor. Damn. I was specifically craving these delicious muffins for the morning. I had to sigh and move on and eat a banana, peanut butter, and protein bar even though none of it sounded as appetizing as those muffins. This was one of those moments that makes me very appreciative of my recovery. In the past this would have either gone one of two ways. One- I would have found myself ecstatic that I had left behind my breakfast as it would be the perfect time to restrict. Two- It would have ruined my entire morning and I would be left trying to alter my meal plan and be very indecisive of my choices especially with no appetite. Recovery made me realized that although the situation wasn’t favorable, breakfast is required and even though I didn’t feel like eating what I had left, I did it anyway and moved on with my day. Little moments like this are a wonderful reminder that I am free.

One of the Lucky Ones

Claim denied. Upon further investigation I had reached my 2, yes t-w-o, therapy appointments covered under insurance. Even then I was only reimbursed half of the cost. I shrugged, used to the system and went about my morning. Later I was sorting through mail again and as I was shredding that denial letter, I was overcome with gratitude in my situation and sadness for others less fortunate. I am one of the lucky ones and I don’t take that lightly. My family has been able to financially support me throughout my entire recovery journey even when insurance would not. Thousands of dollars. For those of you not familiar with mental health coverage benefits, this has been my experience and although every situation is different, I know there are countless others with similar stories. At my worst, I saw a therapist twice a week, a psychiatrist every two weeks, and a nutritionist once a week. Over ten years into this journey I still see a therapist once a month, a psychiatrist every three months unless an issue arises, and a nutritionist on an as need basis. These visits average around $100 and I know others who have spent much more. I will let you do that math, but it adds up very quickly. Without a doubt I know that the only reason I am in a great place in my life is because I was able to have a stable treatment team. With constant monitoring and support, I never had to be placed inpatient, where cost skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands and most are denied after only a few short weeks, leaving them in debt and fighting for other outpatient care. Some give up all together and end up dying from their disorder because they weren’t able to receive the care that they needed and that everyone deserves. I get so angry and frustrated when I think about this whole situation because I am living proof that there is a solution. It is rather simple in my head so why can’t others see it? Stable outpatient resources = recovered. That is my story and I confidently believe that it can be everyone’s story if they are given the opportunity. I am a lucky one and I will never take that for granted. With this anger and passion, I will find ways to get involved in organizations with similar goals. I know I am only a single individual, but I want to make a difference. I want to find others with similar stories to mine showing that full recovery is possible given the opportunity. I also want to hear from all those who have been denied this opportunity. Something needs to change. I know it is a more complex issue than what I present, but why should it be? I am a researcher by nature and I know I could throw fact after fact out if I wanted to write an essay, but this is from my heart. I won’t ramble on, but I hope reading this makes you stop to think, if even for a short moment, about the future of mental health and what it could look like. If you read this and know of organizations committed to this vision please share in the comments because I would love to explore them as well as compile a list so that others can explore them too.

I am grateful to link up with Julia and encourage you to read her recovery roundup on Mondays where people share stories of recovery and perseverance! recovery-round-up-lord-still-loves-me-link-up

How Writing a Thesis can be Compared to Recovery

I tend to fixate too much on the future, especially when it comes to school. I am finding that the hardest thing about writing a thesis is to actually start the writing. I love data collection and actually getting to do the research, but with the writing it seems overwhelming to start. I have an outline, I know the formula, so why is it getting in my way so much? The answer goes back to fixating on the future. Instead of chapters with subheadings nicely broken down, I can’t help but see the deadline for the entire thing and I am left with an overwhelming sense of dread. There is so much to do! I like to be a perfectionist when it comes to about everything in life, which I might add has been mostly a harmful attribute, and it is the same with this. My head gets in the way and just stops me from writing. I want to get it perfect the first time even though rationally I know that isn’t the right mindset.

In my mind this is very relatable to the recovery process. Whether it is addiction or eating disorders or self-harm, or any destructive behavior- if you look at the grand scale of things, it will automatically become overwhelming and you won’t even want to continue. You know what you have to do, yet your head gets in the way and you fail before you even try. Recovery is just like the writing process. There will be several, and I repeat several, “drafts” before things start to fall into the place you want. You will stumble and trip up and succeed and slip and win and lose and the list could go on endlessly. Recovery has become second nature to me now because I took that first step and kept climbing. I also continue to take small steps every day to commit to this new life. Stop focusing on the end goal and start focusing on all the little steps you can do right now in this moment and today that will help you move forwards. Before you know it, your life will change for the better. Trust me in the fact that you may not see it happening, but you will be able to look back after a while and be proud at what you have accomplished. When I put writing a thesis into perspective and comparing it to my recovery, I know that I will succeed. I just need to start, no matter how small and eventually I will have a finished product to be proud of.

Energy

As an athlete I know all too well how my energy can impact my performance. Not only my physical energy, but the energy of my state of mind. Anxiety and excitement are two opposite forms of the same energy that lead to very different results. Anxiety is a negative form of energy that sucks the life out of me, leaving me hopeless and prone to depression. When I am anxious, I pick apart certain skills or movements and am never left satisfied. Excitement is the positive form of anxiety and instead gives me hope and confidence. I work hard on skills and sets with excitement trying to become my best self. In both energy states I work my ass off, but which one produces the results I want? Obvious to any athlete. But what about applying this principle to other aspects of my life? Getting back into a new semester I find myself a bit anxious and stressed concerning my master’s thesis. That energy didn’t do me any favors last semester. As I picked apart every little piece trying to make it perfect, I lost all mindfulness and serenity in life. That energy carried over through the break and it is exhausting. My brain is wired to default to the negative. I am working very hard to re-wire it and be very intentional about mindfulness and gratitude. At first thought it was very hard to think about my master’s thesis as exciting. Yet the more I separate the stress and anxiety, I actually find there is a lot to be excited about. I love the work I am doing with cancer rehabilitation and it is a privilege to get to work with these survivors every day. Each passing week I am closer to the career I want and the life I have envisioned. This is my passion and school is just a stepping stone to get there. Writing can definitely be compared to competing in athletics. You work hard, have many drafts and edits, and eventually end up with something you hope to be proud of. I compete to win and this makes me excited. I am writing in hopes that my thesis will become published and to have a successful defense in order to graduate. That will be a huge victory and this makes me excited. Regardless, I will finish my degree no matter the state of energy. I hope in the coming weeks to continue to be mindful about this topic and use my energy in a positive manner. Thinking this way does transform you. Think about what makes you anxious and then think about how that energy can be converted into excitement. For example, maybe recovery is wrought with anxiety and there is no way for it to be exciting. Really dig deep and come up with your own personal reasons of how it could be exciting. With no exaggeration, I have found recovery to be the most exciting thing in my life. It gave me a new life. I encourage you to take a step back and consider how you can be intentional with your own energy. It is a challenge and as I move forward I strive to stay excited and inspired about life.