Monday, August 30, 2010

My Last First Day of School

Phew! I am exhausted, and the day isn't even near being through!

So, I moved into my on-campus apartment on Friday. One of my roommates, Kelly, was here already. She is a junior transfer student majoring in Political Science. She has red hair and wears funky clothes and is totally awesome. We hit it off right away. Then, on Sunday, the other 2 girls moved in. Kristin is a junior Elementary Ed major who also does hurdles & the high jump in track. She is tall, blonde, and absolutely gorgeous. She is also such a sweet girl, and we had dinner together last night. Then there is Rebeka, who is a sophomore Environmental Science major. She has brown hair that is long and straight (down to her butt, seriously!), and she is a little shy but also really sweet. Last night, she and I and Kelly went to Charlie's Coffeehouse (where I work--tonight is wing night and I work from 7 til 10--free wings with any drink purchase. It is going to be so crowded ughh) for open mic night. We sat on couches and chatted, and it was really nice.

So, I am super relieved that my roommates and I seem to have hit it off, at least so far. I think it's going to be a really great semester.

Today, I had an appointment at the Counseling Center with my new therapist. I was super nervous, but she was great and really put me at ease. Next week I will start nutritional counseling as well. I really think this semester is going to be awesome.

I only had one class today--Women's Studies. There were about 30 women and 2 men in the class--haha! The teacher is a wild and crazy and outspoken woman but she has a great heart. I can't wait for the semester. I was browsing through the topics and eating disorders is something we will discuss. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I'm excited because I'm glad we're going to be covering an issue that is so important for women. But I'm nervous and anxious because what if something upsets me? And should I speak up about my experiences or keep quiet? I guess I'll have to just see how things go in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow I have a busy day. 2 classes during the day, and a night class (Cult Films--heck yes!) from 6:30-10pm! yikesss. I'm usually in my PJ's by 10! haha.


So, this weekend was wild.
Over the top.
And you know what?

I'm weirdly ok with it.

Saturday night, I met up with a bunch of girls and we drank and went to 2 parties and then the bar. I also met a guy. I will call him J, for privacy's sake. He graduated already (Biomedical Engineering, smart AND cute--woo!), but from a different college. He was visiting some friends. Anyway, we ended up spending the whole night together, and he went with me from party to party and to the bar. Then he came back to my building with me....I won't go into details, but things may or may not have occurred. I admit that I woke up the next morning feeling a bit regretful, especially because I realize that, although we had great conversation the whole night and he seemed really awesome, all he probably wanted was sex. And he lives in another state and my chances of ever seeing him again are very slim. I feel like I let alcohol cloud my judgement and caused me to do something I normally take months with a person to do.

However, the plus side is this--I am so proud of myself for being confident enough in my body to bare it all in front of a man! Even if the alcohol made it happen, I still feel like I let myself enjoy the moment and for once, I wasn't worried about how I looked to him. After all, ladies, let's be honest--if you're naked with a guy, all he is thinking is "YES! I am the luckiest man alive right now! I have a naked girl in my room!" They aren't going to say "Oh you know what? Your boobs are two different sizes and you have love handles, so I think you should put your clothes back on and leave.". Believe me, men are a lot less critical of women's bodies than we ourselves are.

So, although I made a somewhat "skanky" choice this weekend, I realize that this is actually a big positive step for me in recovery. I allowed myself to drink without caring about calories, to go out and be social, and to allow a man to see my naked body without worrying what he would think. So, all sluttiness aside, GO ME!

Have you ever made a "risky" decision while drinking? Do you regret it, or did you learn to accept it and move on?


I've probably shared WAY too much. Anyway, I'm off to grab dinner in the caf with a friend before heading to work.

I'm doing surprisingly well with the campus food. Last night, my roomie and I had pizza, and it was effing delicious. Did it have a lot of greasy, fatty calories? Uh yeah, probably. But does it really matter? Um, not really. It tasted good and satisfied my hunger, and that's all that matters.

Oh, and I woke up this morning to a surprise visit from Mother Nature--
that's right, I GOT MY PERIOD!
I literally have not gotten it in over a year. I almost screamed, out of shock or joy I'm not sure. But in any case, I am so happy.

It has been a busy but altogether satisfying few days. I hope the rest of my week goes well.

How are you all doing? I've been reading your blogs and I'm proud of so many of you for stepping outside your comfort zones and facing your fears.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Last Semester Ever (at least, I hope so)

So, this is it.

All my backs are packed, I'm ready to go. Well, as ready as I'll ever be, anyway.

I watched my two darling boys Toby & Finley today one last time. Then, I had a splendid dinner on the porch with my parents--baked salmon, rice/quinoa, and steamed broccoli/cauliflower. Then, my dad and I packed up my little Volvo S40 with as much of my stuff as we could fit! (My parents will bring the rest of my stuff--like my mini-fridge--on Saturday).

Tomorrow, I drive myself the 2.5 hours to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, to move myself into my on-campus apartment for my last semester of college--hopefully EVER.

I am feeling nostalgic about the past 5 years of my life. So much has changed for me. There have been so many ups and downs. A year ago, I moved into college for what I thought would be my senior year. Little did I know, 3 weeks later I would be coming home, going into the hospital, and then staying home for a full year to attend treatment and get back on track.

So, am I a little nervous about going back to school tomorrow? Yes, of course. It will be the first time I've lived independently, without my parents around to check on my meals and make sure I do all my supplements. Yes, I lived independently my first 3 years of college, but the first 2 years were before my eating disorder, and the third year I quickly spiraled but was in denial. This will be my first time since attending treatment and gaining weight--and health--back that I have been living by myself and going to school full-time.

Luckily, I still have a lot of support. I have a therapist at school, as well as a nutritionist, plus I have my team here at home that I can call/visit at any time. I also will be keeping in frequent contact with my parents and friends from home. However, I am living in a single room, although I will be in a suite with 3 other girls--but I don't know any of them! I have a couple friends in nearby buildings, though, and they will be there for me if I need them.

I know that it is going to be incredibly difficult, and I know I'm going to have to keep my guard up, especially the first couple of weeks. It is so easy when no one is monitoring me for me to make excuses and cut corners, because that's exactly what happened a year ago. However, I think I'm in a much better place right now. Not only am I physically well, but I am mentally out of the obsessive-compulsive exercise/calorie-counting stage. I can't remember the last time I counted my calories, and today when I was packing up my car, I realized that it was the first time I've broken a sweat in months! Besides stretching and walking around the mall, I honestly have done ZERO activity. So, I know there's a state-of-the-art fitness facility at school where I can run for hours, and plenty of places where I can eat a salad with no dressing for dinner, but I know that I won't let that be my life again. Will I learn to handle light exercise a few days a week for wellness and health rather than calorie-burning? I hope so. Eventually. Can I still enjoy a salad with fresh vegetables sometimes? Yes, of course. But I know for a fact that this time around, I'll be hitting up that dessert bar too--free cookies and ice cream, here I come!

And as for my social life. I'm a legal adult, and there's nothing wrong with a shot of tequila now and again.

Anyway, I'll post again once I get settled so I can show you my new digs. Wish me luck...


P.S. Thought you might wanna see the evolution of me in college...especially my junior year in 2008-2009, when I started to spiral into ED's deadly grasp....

(*NOTE: If you are easily triggered by images, PLEASE skip this section)

August/September 2006: beginning of Freshman year, with my roommate Chelsea, who was British! (I'm on the left)

September 2007: beginning of sophomore year, with friends before going out (I'm on the far left)

September 2008: beginning of junior year with 2 of my 3 roommates (I'm in the middle). Still healthy at this point.

December 2008: End of 1st semester. Restricting & exercising more, but still a "healthy" BMI.

January 2009: Beginning of 2nd semester. Exercising daily & dramatically reducing caloric intake.

April 2009: End of junior year. Reach a scary low weight. Miserable and unhealthy.

June 2009: 21st birthday. Still underweight, but in beginning stages of recovery.

September 2009: Beginning of senior year. Rapidly lose weight. Shortly after this, I go to inpatient treatment.

November 2009: After being released from inpatient treatment and during intensive outpatient (IOP). This is on a family trip to visit my brother's military base (hence the flight gear).

March 2010: Me and P (yes, the one I've been sporadically emailing) at a wedding. In a good, solid point in my recovery. Completely outpatient.

August 2010: me a few weeks ago at the beach, with Toby on my lap.

So, It's been very up and down, as you can see. But, I think I'm ready.

No, scratch that.

I know I'm ready this time.

I won't come home (ok ok, I'll visit--duh!) until I have that diploma in my hands in December.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A "Date" to...Forget.

Ok, so.

Last night, the guy I ran into at the coffee shop called and asked if I wanted to meet up for drinks. I said "Sure, why not", and we agreed on Maggie's. It is a restaurant/bar with a nice, cozy atmosphere. Fun fact: my mom used to be a waitress there when she was pregnant with me!

So, anyway. I wasn't really quite sure if this was a "date" or not, but it certainly seemed that way from the way he has been texting/calling me saying he really wants to meet up before he moves to California next week.

So, I arrived at Maggie's at around 7:45, and went inside and ordered a drink. J texted to say he would be a few minutes late, and when he finally arrived around 8:00, he apologized profusely, gave me a hug, and ordered a beer.

Then, we chatted for awhile. It was nice, I suppose, but there were definitely no sparks, and there were a few awkward silences. It ended up being kind of weird. I mean, I find myself to be a pretty decent conversationalist and a social person, but it just wasn't a great conversation. I mean, J has a lot of interesting travels and experiences to talk about, which was interesting to hear, but beyond that, I felt that there wasn't much there. Friends, and that's it.

So then came the awkward moment when the bartender asked if we'd like another round. J quickly declined (I was actually rather relieved), and so the bartender closed up our tab. J took out his credit card, and since my wallet was nearby, I took it out of my purse and kind of awkwardly held it, not sure if I was expected to pay.

Welllll, apparently, I was. J was like, "Oh, I'll put it on my card and you can just give me cash." BURRRN. I mean, I'm no snob, and I understand that the guy doesn't have a lot of money. But, heck, neither do I! I work in a coffee shop on a college campus and babysit every once in awhile, for goodness sake!

So, after we paid up, we awkwardly walked to the parking lot, where we hugged and I scurried into my car and got OUT OF THERE.

I mean, I guess I can't really complain, because I reconnected with an old friend from high school, and it wasn't a TOTAL bore. However, as my first "date" back in the single world, it was a bit disappointing.

But, I talked to my BFF on the phone about it, and she always knows how to make me feel better. She said that it was great practice for the future, and that it's probably a good thing that there weren't many sparks, because he is moving away and I am going back to school anyway. So, I guess it could have been worse. Although I did spend $6 on a mixed drink....*sigh*


In other news, I am spending the next couple days packing up my stuff because on FRIDAY I move into my apartment at school! AHHH. I can't believe my last semester of college EVER is upon me. I am sad and happy at once. Sad because I was supposed to graduate with my class in May. But happy because I finally feel like I'm at a point in my recovery where I can be on my own and stay on top of meals, school, and life. This will be my first time living independently (well, I'm in an on-campus suite with 3 other girls. I only know who one of them is, and only vaguely. So that is a bit stressful, but that's ok. I have my own room) since before my ED. I am definitely going to have my guard up, especially the first couple weeks, but I also feel completely confident that I will make it through my last semester with flying colors--and a diploma in my hands!

I am ready to join the real world, people!


What are your favorite quotes in recovery?
I want to decorate my room at school with uplifting quotes to keep me going, but I'm having a difficult time coming up with them.

One of my favorites is:

"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path."

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Week in Summary (oh yeah, and the Giveaway Winner!)

It's just after 10:00 on Friday evening here in Maryland, and it's been a rather relaxing and non-stressful week--for the most part.


First, I'd just like to thank everyone who gave me their long-distance relationship advice and entered my giveaway! I really appreciate the advice, and I took each comment to heart. In terms of my online chats with P, I am just letting things unfold naturally and trying not to have any expectations. It's weird because I've known him for about 7 years, but I always knew him as my brother's friend. But now that we've been talking pretty much every day, I realize how much we have in common. He is intelligent, sweet, and has a hilarious sense of humor. So, for now, since he is in Japan and I'm in the U.S., I'll have to just stick to online flirtation. But maybe when he comes back to the states for Christmas we'll go on a real date and see what happens...

So, remember in my last post when I said that I went to Birdie's Cafe and ran into a guy from high school that I hadn't seen in awhile? Well, I ended up going over to where he was sitting and we chatted for awhile before I left. I gave him my number in case he wanted to meet up sometime before I leave for school and he leaves as well--to move to California! I really didn't expect to hear anything back. Well, the next day (Wednesday), I got a text from him saying he would love to meet up sometime. So we texted a few times back and forth, and he suggested going to a movie either Friday or Saturday. So, I texted him back saying to call me and we'd work out the details. Well, it is now Friday night....and he hasn't called. Or texted.

What gives? Does anyone know what is up with this?

I often get frustrated with technology in the dating world because I feel like people hide behind it. Perhaps this guy is just shy. But it just seems weird that he would text me with a definite plan to see a movie, and then not follow through with it, even when I expressed interest! So frustrating...

And as for B, the recent ex, things are as good as can be expected, I suppose. We talked on the phone once and he was really upset and wanted me to give him another chance, but I stood my ground. Then the next day he texted me telling me he was over it. Typical B. His emotions are always up and down. I think he is trying to be tough. I feel awful about upsetting him and hurting him, but I do not regret my decision to break up in any way. I am ready to start the semester (I move into my apartment in 1 week eeeek!) with a totally clean slate.


So....the moment you've all been waiting for! The winner of my giveaway!

........drum roll please.......I picked a number AT RANDOM via's online random number generator and the winner was:

#11: suburban prep/Maureen!

Maureen, please send me an email and I'll put you in contact with the lovely people at CSN stores who will give you your gift certificate code worth $40!

Thanks to all who entered, and I'll hopefully have another giveaway for you all soon, so stay posted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blogging from Birdie's

So, I wonder if I am becoming an official blog-maniac--I am currently blogging via WiFi in a cafe in my town.

Last night, a pretty severe thunderstorm hit my town and knocked out the internet at our house. So, I used it as an excuse to come to this new coffee shop in town and blog!

Birdie's Cafe is the name of the place, but I've actually known this building for YEARS. You see, there used to be this adorable cafe called the Pour House that we would all come to in high school. There were open mic nights, singer/songwriters, and an outdoor patio. It was always a cool place to chill.

But then, a few years ago, with the recession and everything, the Pour House sadly closed. It was vacant for awhile, until about a month ago! This is my first time in here, but the new owners have kept a lot of the same style and calm atmosphere of it. And the menu is similar too! Yay...perhaps I've found a new hangout...and a place to blog when my internet is kaputz.

So, I also ran into a guy named Jeff who was a senior in high school when I was a freshman. Haven't seen him in awhile, but he is lookin' GOOD. haha. He actually approached me first and gave me a hug and remembered my name, so I guess that's a good sign.

Anyway, thank you everyone for your awesome advice about the whole P situation, and for the encouragement about my recent breakup. I am confident in my decision to end things with B, even though it is a difficult thing to handle. I've been on both ends of a breakup, and I can say that both are painful.

As for P in Japan, I'm just going to keep my options open and let things ride. We have been emailing and chatting, and I'm just going to continue to see what happens. Maybe we'll meet up over the holidays for a real date, and I can see if he is worth holding on to. For now, a flirtatious email friendship will have to suffice.

Also, thanks for entering my giveaway! And remember, you have until Friday at 9pm EST to enter. So leave a comment on this post with your thoughts/advice on long-distance relationships and whether or not they work. That's all you have to do, and a $40 gift card to use at over 200 online stores could be yours.

*note: this is only open to Canadian and U.S. residents, sorry!*

Sunday, August 15, 2010

GIVEAWAY! Don't Miss This Opportunity!

As summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter, the weather is getting cooler and, for many of us, that means more family gatherings and dinner parties inside. So, if you need anything from cookware and dining room sets to bedding and wine glasses, my upcoming giveaway is the perfect thing for you!

I am lucky enough to have been contacted by the lovely people at CSN stores, who would like to give a $40 gift card to one of my readers to use as they wish at one of their 200+ stores! But more on that later.

First, let me recap my week...

pyramid! (I am in the green bikini).

Rehoboth beach was fabulous. Lots of fun, food, and friends. And I managed to get a bit tan! I stayed in a lovely beach house with my best friend and her family, as well as a few friends who were in and out during the week. Highlights of the week included lounging on the beach, happy hour(s), crab feasts, apples to apples game night, and ice cream and rides on the boardwalk, just to name a few.

Here is the best friend, her sister, and me (on the right). I am the maid of honor and her sister (in the middle) is the matron of honor in my friend's wedding in September 2011!

So, the vacation itself was great. However, I have decided to call it quits with the boyfriend. Lately, we weren't getting along very well, and I felt like he wasn't treating me the way I deserve. Our personalities were clashing, and it just didn't seem like it was going to work out in the long run. Also, I found myself becoming interested and attracted to other guys, which I took as a sign that perhaps B & I just weren't cut out for each other.

I also have a new love interest--sort of. My brother's friend, who I will call P for privacy purposes, has been my email penpal for the past couple of weeks. We talk online and email back & forth several times a day. The only problem is that P is a Marine Officer currently stationed in JAPAN! Talk about long distance. So, we can't exactly start dating anytime soon. I have known him for years through my brother, and I saw him in March at a friend's wedding, but I never really thought about him in a romantic way--until recently. He is 3 years older than me, so when I was in high school and he was in college (and one of my brother's roommates, no less!), dating each other wasn't really an option. But now that the age gap doesn't matter anymore (I'm 22, he's 25), I really seem to click with him when we talk. But, like I said, the guy is literally continents away, so there's not much to be done about that for the time being. He still has a little less than 2 years over there. Ugh.

But I feel great to be free from my previous relationship. I am ready to explore my options and really learn to depend on myself.

So, there are 2 weeks until school starts. I am feeling nervous and anxious, but also excited. I know I can do it. I know I can survive on my own at school without relapsing. It will be hard, but I am determined to succeed.


Ok, so, about this awesome giveaway! Basically, CSN stores has been generous enough to offer one of my lucky readers a $40 gift card to use at any of their 200+ online stores. The great thing about CSN is that they have anything you could possibly want--from workout gear and shoes to dining room sets and cookware!

To enter, simply comment on this post telling me what your opinions on long-distance relationships are. Have you ever been in one? Do you think they work, or is it not worth it? Give me your honest thoughts! I'll pick one winner on Friday, August 20th at 9pm EST. Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity from CSN stores!

*note: This giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canadian residents.*

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back from the Beach

Long time, no blog!

I arrived home this afternoon and boy, do I feel overwhelmed on all the blogging I missed out on! I am going to try and catch up on everyone's lives as best as I can this evening.

Rehoboth Beach was a blast. I enjoyed some fun in the sun with my best friend and her family (who are my second family). Now I only have 2 weeks until the semester starts. This week Brooke, her sister Erin, and I are going to look at bridesmaid dresses for Brooke's wedding! So exciting.

Oh, also--I broke up with B, the boyfriend. I know, I know, the last time I mentioned him I said how great he was. But it honestly just wasn't working out. The sparks weren't there and he was making me feel inferior by talking down to me. Oh, and there might be another man who has stolen my interest...more on that another time.

Too tired to write anything else...but I'll be reading about your lovely lives, and I'll post more again soon...including info about an upcoming GIVEAWAY!!! stay tuned!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Seeing my Best Friend Again!

Today is the day! I get to see my BEST FRIEND for the first time since May!

She has been in England spending time with her fiance all summer. But now I get her all to myself for a glorious week of sunbathing and wine-drinking at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware!

Can't wait :-)

Not sure how internet service will be, so perhaps I'll post soon...but if not, have a great week!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"You're beautiful the way you are.".......Yeah, Right!

In honor of Operation Beautiful's Change the Way You See, Not the Way You Look Week, courtesy of Caitlin @ Healthy Tipping Point, I decided to write a post about self-esteem and body image, with a focus on my struggle with anorexia and how I am finally coming out on the other side.

*Note: If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder and are easily triggered, please read the following post with caution.


“You’re beautiful just the way you are.”

“We are all unique—that’s what makes us special!”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

“God made you the way you are for a reason.”

“FAT is not a feeling!”

…If I could count the number of times I’ve heard the above phrases, either from well-intentioned family and friends, therapists and pastors, boyfriends, or random acquaintances…well, let’s just say I’d be a very rich young woman.

We’ve all heard those cliché phrases about loving ourselves from the inside out and embracing the unique ways in which we each are beautiful. But how many of us really internalize those words? I know I haven’t always believed them. And I’m not going to lie to you and say I do now. In fact, I think it would be rather abnormal not to have any sort of doubts or self-esteem issues. After all, we are only human. However, there is a difference between accepting a bad hair/skin/butt/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-body-image-woe day, sighing with frustration as we get ready in the morning, and moving on; and letting those body image and self-esteem issues weigh us down (no pun intended).

I was always one of those girls who felt pretty comfortable with my body growing up. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I was confident enough in my looks and talents to be a happy and well-adjusted teenager. I was active in dance, theatre, and choir, and although there was definitely a pressure to look a certain way—especially in dance—I really didn’t worry too much about my looks. I was blessed with a fit, slim body, thick blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. I had lots of friends, a great family, and endless opportunities, including going to my first-choice college—a small liberal arts university nestled in central Pennsylvania that cost my parents a pretty penny. All in all, I was a very lucky gal.

It wasn’t until halfway through my college career that I began to let body image and self-esteem literally affect who I was and how I behaved.

The spring after my sophomore year of college, I returned home with a body that was a bit “softer around the edges”. By no means was I “big” in any way—I was still within a healthy range for my height, at 5’6” and right around 130 pounds—but I was also out of shape and had gained about 10 pounds since leaving for college. The combination of late-night pizza and beer runs, lunchtime burritos with sour cream and cheese, and a total lack of physical activity, was finally taking its toll on me.

I wasn’t too concerned about my weight or my body, as I was still fairly thin. However, after receiving a few comments from my family and even a doctor about my habits, I decided to “get healthy and fit” and “eat better”. So, I started taking jogs with my brother and dad a few times a week, substituting water for soda, and watching my portions. By the time I returned to school for my junior year of college, I had dropped about 5 pounds and was toned and healthy. I had reached what I believe to be my body’s healthy adult weight—around 125 pounds, give or take.

I remember finally feeling confident again that first month back. I went to a party the first weekend of the semester, and I got more attention from guys than I had in awhile. Plus, all of my girl friends told me how fabulous I looked and how jealous they were of my body. I have to admit, it felt pretty darn good. So, I thought: if it wasn’t so hard to lose 5 pounds, why not lose 5 more?

…And so the spiral into a life-threatening eating disorder began.

I started working out every single day before class, and cutting back on my food intake more and more. At first, I felt great. I felt powerful, strong, and in control. Over winter break, my family noticed that I was a bit thin (probably around 115 pounds), but I still seemed to be eating fairly normally, so no one thought much of it. It wasn’t until I returned to college for the spring semester in 2009 that things got much, much worse.

I began religiously tracking my calories. Each week I would set a new goal—not to exceed 1,800 calories per day, then 1,700, then 1,500, and so on. In the period of a few short months, I was barely surviving on 500 calories (or less) per day. This, combined with rigorous runs on the treadmill for an hour a day, led to a severe and incredibly dangerous weight loss. I literally lost about 20+ pounds that spring alone.

My friends were worried. They emailed and called my parents, expressing their concern. I was referred to the campus health center. I was told to stop working at my on-campus coffeehouse job because the staff was concerned for my health and didn’t think I should be on my feet for long stretches of time. Meanwhile, the eating disorder was not only whittling away my body—it was eating away at my soul. Once a confident, quirky, funny individual, I was nothing but a shell of my former self. I was cold, tired, sick, pale, gaunt, and depressed. By the time May rolled around, it took all of my energy to simply wake up and put on some sweatpants in the morning. I slept more than I was awake. I still couldn’t eat.

And it’s not that I refused to eat. I honestly just couldn’t. Eating disorders are deadly because of their deceptive nature and the way they control your mind. The lower my weight dropped, the more irrational my thoughts about food and weight became. My mind was playing tricks on me. I honestly had no idea how thin I really was. To me, eating a whole apple was “splurging”. I would eat half and throw the other half away before I’d be “tempted” to finish it. And on the rare occasions I did “give in” and eat the whole apple, I would berate myself. My eating disorder would tell me I was fat and ugly and worthless and that I didn’t deserve to live.

By the time I returned home in May of 2009, my weight had dropped well below 100 pounds—I won’t give the specific number for fear of triggering someone who may be reading. Looking back on it, it is amazing to me that I was able to finish out that semester—with straight A’s, no less.

My parents were terrified. I hadn’t seen them in awhile, and they were shocked when they saw me again. I expressed some of my anxieties about food and compulsions to exercise with them, but they were very uneducated in the area of eating disorders—as was I. My doctor took blood tests and they came back normal (note to readers: normal blood results DOES NOT mean everything is ok!). My parents and I went to France for 2 weeks that May. I still cannot believe the doctor allowed it. However, that trip to France was a real turning point for me. In a new environment, I suddenly found myself faced with all kinds of new things—people, places, languages, sights, sounds, smells—and, of course, food. So, for some reason, I held nothing back. For those two weeks, my eating disorder fell by the wayside as I indulged in chocolate éclairs, crispy croissants, a multitude of wines, escargot, beef bourguignon, and sweet sorbets. I gained at least 5 pounds, and finally started to find life worth living again.

However, little did I know, this was just the beginning. I thought recovery would be easy, and I thought I could do it on my own. I started seeing a nutritionist and therapist weekly, and managed to put on a few pounds before my senior year of college in the fall of 2009, but I was far from being “in the clear”…

3 weeks into my senior year, I returned home on a random Thursday when a class was cancelled…and I never went back. In those 3 weeks, I had lost almost all of the weight I had gained over the summer, was exercising obsessively, and had pretty much cut all fat and carbohydrates from my already meager diet.

With the support of my parents and treatment team, I made the most difficult decision of my adult life—I dropped out of college and signed myself in to an inpatient treatment facility at the eating disorders unit of the hospital.

I was scared, disappointed, overwhelmed, and upset, but in a way, I was relieved. Finally, I found people who understood what I was going through. Finally, I had reached out for help. Finally, I had given up control. Being inpatient was no picnic (again, no pun intended), and my blood sugar and heart rate were so low those first few days that I was checked up on every 15 minutes in the night to make sure I didn’t stop breathing in my sleep. But I wasn’t scared for myself. I was too numb and shocked for that. Instead, I worried about my parents, whose eyes filled with tears every time they visited me. I worried about how they would live without their only daughter. So, for them—at least at first—I decided to recover.

I followed the program’s meal plan without complaint, even when it left me bloated and uncomfortable and filled with disgust. Once released, I attended intensive outpatient treatment 4 days per week for several months. I was weighed once a week, and ate dinner each night in the program. Some days I resented the people who were only there to help me. Some days I considered not showing up. Some days I wanted the comfort and security that my eating disorder had provided, rather than the scary reality of moving on with my life. However, I kept going, even on the toughest of days.

That was last fall and winter. Since then, I have slowly been piecing my life back together. I commuted to a college closer to home in the spring so I could attend treatment and still lean on my parents for support. I am in a new relationship with a guy who is kind, patient, and listens when I need him. And, when I just need a good laugh, he is there with a funny joke or a random story. I got a job for the 2010 Census this past spring. Finally, at 22, I am beginning to live my life again.

I am nowhere near full recovery, but I also know I am far from where I was 2 years ago. I am finally healthier, stronger, and more confident.

I won’t lie and say I love my body now that I’ve gained weight back. And I won’t lie and say I look in the mirror and love everything I see. But, through my experiences and my treatment, I have learned that maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s not about being perfect or being skinny. After all, I was the skinniest person I knew for a long time—and I was also the least happy.

Beauty isn’t the best makeup or perfect hair or a meticulous manicure. Beauty isn’t a tight butt or luscious lips or long, lean legs. Beauty isn’t a flat tummy or perky breasts or delicate hands.

Beauty comes in all forms—beauty is a laugh shared between two friends, or a shooting star on a summer night, or a hug from a loved one.

Beauty is the scar on your shin from when you fell off your bike in the third grade. It’s the stretch marks on your stomach from when you held your child’s body in your womb. It’s the cut on your finger from when you were slicing vegetables while making dinner for your husband. Beauty is when your hair is all messed up from riding with the top down. Beauty is the delicate sound of your daughter’s laugh. Beauty is so many things. Beauty isn’t just physical.

So, please, don’t listen to those ads and commercials that tell you that all of your problems will disappear if you could just reach that magic number on the scale. Instead, listen to your heart when it tells you that the person you are with is worth it, or when your mind lingers over a particular passage in a book.

And maybe, even though it’s cheesy and a little cliché, just listen to your boyfriend/husband/partner/friend/mother/teacher when they say:

“You are beautiful just the way you are.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Celebrating Life

Thank you all so much for your compassionate messages about my friend Danielle's death. It really means a lot to me that you all care. Gotta love my blog friends!


So, yesterday evening at 5pm was Danielle's Memorial Service. I got there 30 minutes early, and there was already a line out the door. So many people showed up--friends, family, even strangers. I met up with some of my high school friends (and our drama teacher!) and we decided to sit together. It was nice to see them again, even under such terrible circumstances.

What I loved about Danielle's service was this--everyone was encouraged to wear bright colors, or Ravens football gear (Danielle was a fan), and it was meant to be a celebration of her vibrant life. There was a slideshow of pictures set to some of her favorite songs, and posters of photos all around the chapel. The chapel, which holds a few hundred people, was PACKED--some people even had to stand!

Her boyfriend of 6 years spoke, as did her mother, father, and a few other relatives and friends. It was incredibly emotional, and I cried--a lot. In fact, I almost didn't make it to the chapel. On my way there, I thought I was going to throw up. I have always had an aversion to funerals. But, Danielle really meant a lot to me, and I knew she would have gone to my funeral had I gone to heaven first.

What really made it all worth it was seeing Danielle's mother, Debbie. I hadn't seen Danielle in about a year, but we had known each other since we were 3 and in ballet class together. Our mothers were also friends. Still--I didn't expect her to recognize me at all, or to talk to me at such a large event with so many other family and friends there. However, I had just gotten out of the restroom and was standing in the back of the chapel admiring some beautiful photos of Danielle, when Debbie came up behind me and said my name. Then she gave me a huge hug and said "I am so glad you're here." We talked for a few minutes, and she said Danielle would have been so glad that I came. It was a really difficult moment, but also a really beautiful one. I am still having a really hard time dealing with this. She was 22 years old--the same age I am now--and it just seems so unfair that she had to leave this earth so soon. However, losing Danielle is making me realize how precious life really is. I can't put things off for "later", because you really never know how much time you have. Not that we should live our lives in constant fear of death. But, I am realizing that if there is something I want to do, I should just do it. Not later. NOW.

After the funeral, which lasted almost 2 hours, I headed home for what I thought would be a quiet night of watching movies on my couch with Boomer the cat. Then, a little before 8pm, the doorbell rang. I was a little freaked out, as I was home alone, and it was Sunday night. So, I open the door, and on the doorstep there was a dozen red roses and a card with my name on it. I looked around, and there appeared to be no one at my house--no cars, nothing. I wasn't sure if I should be flattered or seriously freaked out. But then, who pops out of the bushes?

MY BOYFRIEND!!! It was so sweet. He drove 2.5 hours to surprise me and to cheer me up. He had to work today, so he could only stay until this morning, but we had a really fun time. We made a drinking game out of battleship (you have to drink when one of your ships sinks), and then we had a dance party in the living room. I showed him my high school performance of "Bye Bye Birdie" on DVD, which made him laugh. And then my parents arrived home and hung out with us some more and then we all went to sleep.

This morning, B & I played more battleship (without the alcohol this time!), then lounged on the couch and talked. It was just what I needed. What a guy, let me tell ya!!! :-)


This week, please take the time to re-connect with someone you haven't spoken to in awhile but have been meaning to. It could be a friend from high school, a grandparent, or a coworker. Just give them a call/text/email/snail mail message just to say "Hi! How are you?". It will mean the world to that person, and it will make you feel pretty good too.

Have you ever gotten a surprise visit from someone you love?
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