Cleaning Out Boxes of the Past

A lake near a mountain

A lake near the mountains

After arriving back in the USA a few days ago, I’ve been busy cleaning out all of my old boxes. Although I just moved back from China, my goal is to move abroad again for my Master’s Degree soon. Thus, all of the clutter in my old room and closet needed to leave.

As I pulled out old boxes and rummaged through dusty drawers, glimpses of the past kept appearing.

My fingers were stained pink and blue from oil pastel paintings made in residential treatment for my eating disorder. Babies surrounded by darkness, blood-red monsters devouring me, trees half blossoming and half diseased – images of despair and hope mixed with every color.

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Is There One Cure-All for Mental Illness?

Sloth on tree

This sloth is sometimes how I feel when I am down.

Today I started a new one type of therapy. Although I am feeling optimistic, some apprehension has already taken root in me. The therapist stressed the fact that her treatment would help me heal from past trauma. With that vampire bat gone from hanging in the corner of my mind, I would heal from the rest of my mental illness – depression, eating disorder, and anxiety included.

Can that really happen? Does one type of therapy cure mental illness? For that matter, does one medication?

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What Motivates Us?

When we discuss motivation, we usually express hurrying towards something that we desire. Maybe money motivates you. Perhaps it is fear or friendship. Security, pleasure, thrill, religion, passion…the list continues on endlessly.

However, most people think that more rewards will urge people to work harder. Strangely enough, that is not always the case. This fascinating video shows that.

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What I Wish That I Learned in Eating Disorder Treatment

Figures of women in Oxford

Figures of women from a museum in Oxford

The past few days have caused me to realize that there are many things that I wish I learned in eating disorder treatment, important aspects of living a normal life with food in it. Without these lessons in treatment, I have struggled greatly to try to adapt to the real world and maintain my recovery.

Now, most of my time in treatment was instructive, healing, and motivating. Health care providers gave me hope with their optimism and constant support. Fellow friends in recovery stood by my side and told me their own stories. Therapy groups taught me to use music, art, CBT, or my faith as a coping skill. Dietitians crafted a meal plan to support my body, lifestyle, and other needs. Acupuncture, yoga, family nights, outings at restaurants – all of the different activities allowed me to heal and explore new aspects of myself that had lay dormant for years.

However, something was still missing. More was needed in my treatment to help me further along in recovery.

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Top Ten Websites about OCD

If you search for mental illness on the internet, some of the sites that you will stumble upon will be very helpful. Others, however, can be misleading, degrading, and triggering. Thus, it is important to have good resources to turn to on the web instead of trusting the first site that appears after a Google search.

Here are some websites on OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which are helpful for support people and those diagnosed with this type of anxiety. Some are blogs while others are health sites. Please let me know about any other OCD sites that you find helpful.

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Thoughts after Taking a Day off of Medication

Laughing with friend

Even with friends, I know that part of me is different because of my medication.

Because I saw the late night premier of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last night, I did not take one of my evening medications which makes me very sleepy. The lack of it kept me riled up and awake until a bit after 4:00 A.M. Still, my alarm was set for 8:30 because I have so much work to do.

When I awoke this morning, I felt strangely perky. “You will crash in a few hours,” a friend warned. But I did not.

Without my medication, I sprung through the day with a strange energy. For the first time in a long time, liveliness pulsed through my body. It was almost like I was a new person.

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I Get Sick of Being Told What to Do

Eating disorders are not glamorous!

Eating disorders are not glamorous!

“Eat more often.” “Don’t have anything with sugar.” “Put on some makeup.” “Stop caring about what you look like.”

Sometimes, the voices of everyone and everything around me are so overwhelming. Listening to them all and obeying them becomes a constant chore. Like a puppet, I move my arms and walk through life attached to the strings of others. If only the scissors that I tried to use to free myself were healthier coping mechanisms.

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Others See You in a Different Way Than You See Yourself

One of the most terrifying words for someone struggling with anorexia or any type of eating disorder is restoration. Many people have positive connotations with this term. After all, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as  “the act of restoring or the condition of being restored” as well as “a restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition.”  Paintings and buildings are restored to their former glory, we restore relationships that were broken, and the rightful king can be restored to his throne. Those all bring healing and renewed beauty.

However, in eating disorder treatment, “restoration” means the need to gain weight or (even more frightening) pounds put on from increased food intake. Right now, I hate the word. Slowly, the percentage of my meal plan consumed has risen in the past year. Because of that, I have gained more weight. My stomach, legs, arms, and entire body are screaming in protest while my eyes and tongue beg for food. This battle has increased significantly in the past week. On Wednesday, my dietitian finally admitted that I had indeed reached restoration. Despite her reassurance that I was not overweight, my eating disorder began to scream louder than it has for many months. I am teetering on the edge of a relapse but trying desperately to stay strong in recovery. Everything seems to be falling apart around me.

Yet, some lights have shined through the darkness. For example, people have affirmed me, and many friends have stood loyally by my side. Despite my self-hatred, classmates have pointed out the beauty I cannot see in myself. Right now, in a time when I cannot trust my own eyes, I need to listen to them to know what I truly look like. This amazing video really impacted me and reminded me that my thoughts can be disordered and warped.

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Recovery in the Media: #45. Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid Michaelson has songs that address being open to your emotions and hope.

Ingrid Michaelson has songs that address being open to your emotions and hope.

45. Selected Ingrid Michaelson Songs

During treatment, I often heard Ingrid Michaelson’s soothing voice during music therapy and yoga. The center even played some of her songs in the waiting rooms. As I came to recognize her voice, it began to lull me into a peaceful state. The lyrics and her gentle style comforted me during rough moments. Many of her songs have messages of hope and longing for healing. Thus, they seemed great to share on Media Monday.

Selected Songs:

    • “Be OK” from her Be OK album
    • “Locked Up” from her Everybody album
    • “Breakable” from her  Girls and Boys album
    • “Home” from her Lights Out album
    • “The Way I Am” from her Girls and Boys album

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Returning to My Residential Eating Disorder Treament Center

After over two years, I am sitting in the sunlight surrounded by the orange and green building. The older maintenance man walks past, reminding me of giggling over his younger co-worker with the other girls. However, the doors are locked, keeping me out instead of holding me in. The therapists grin kindly without recognizing me as a pioneer, one of the first people to stay in this building.

I have returned to where I lived three months for residential care for my eating disorder.

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