Thursday, October 30, 2008

more responsiblities than a year ago..

Everything is sneaking up on me again. I may have done a bit of procrastinating, I'll admit. Sometimes, I miss the way things were on Alcott; my room & board were not costs I had to worry about, I didn't have to be anywhere, there were no deadlines, and I always had a minimum of 4 professionals around to help me sort my head out. Not to mention, I'd kill for one of those blueberry muffins I used to have for breakfast every day, but that's way besides the point.

On the other hand, it's so much more fun to run my own life. There is so much going on and coming at me from so many different directions. It's going to be a great month. Maybe you guys could join me for some of it?

NaNoWriMo: or National Novel Writing Month. If you guys are writers (which, I have an inkling that most of my readers are..), you should absolutely get involved. Try something new, find a new sense of accomplishment, challenge yourself. It's a novel in 30 days, it's not intended to be a best seller. The point is to know that you can bang out 50,000 words in a month. No one even has to read it. So what the hell are you waiting for? The word count starts in less than 36 hrs!
[If/When you join, find me and my writing buddies on the site: emsr18]

NaBloPoMo: for those of you who are not fiction writers and don't have an interest in giving it a shot, I know many of you have no problems with blog writing. This is a bit different, but still a fun challenge if you would like to take one! Just a blog post a day.

The 2oo8 Election: I will be going "home" on the 4th to vote. I hope you are all registered and voting. This is the most involved I have ever been in an election, besides the fact that it's only the 2nd one that I can vote in (there is no reason that under-18ers shouldn't be involved, even if they can't vote!). To be honest, I'm a little freaked out about what may happen on Nov 4. Some of the things I hear right now are making me sick, but this isn't a political blog, so I'll stick to the things I am informed about. Here's an e-mail that I think all woman should consider.

MEDA: I am in the midst of setting up an interview with them to join their winter/spring volunteers. I am so excited about this. It may just be a volunteer opportunity, but you never know where that can lead. It's all about getting your foot in the door.

Finances: The rooming situation, the job situation.. it's all slowly falling into place. It's also completely - once again - proving how everything comes together when it's supposed to. It's a process, but it always works out for the best and I'm no longer worried. This upcoming month may be the end of my rough patch. We'll see.

Finally, I've had this idea rolling around in my head for a while about an ED Blogger's Meet-Up of some sort. It would be something that would have to wait until the new year, of course, but I've been thinking about it. I'll post more about that later.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"some days, i think art is the only thing that saved me.."

I was reminded a little while back that I was interested in collecting samples of art therapy from other readers and was considering searching for more submissions.  Shortly after I had the thought, I received an e-mail from a 30-year-old woman, Shawna, who was intrigued by my earlier posts on art and recovery.
She was first diagnosed with AN at the age of 14.  She recalls two relapses since then (one at 17, in which she was hospitalized, and the other three years ago, where she was placed in an outpatient program).  She has her MA in Art and her work is incredible.  The meanings are almost too intense to put into words, which I suppose is the true power that comes through art.  She even says she often has trouble discussing the art and explaining the meanings to "academic types."
Below are some of the pieces I found particularly powerful from her site.

"Soul Escape"



"War Goddess (sculpture)"

I want to post so many more.
If you would like to see the rest of Shawna's art, her website can be found here.

If anyone else is interested in sharing their art therapy works, feel free to send them to me over at

Friday, October 24, 2008

happy anniversary. it's a big one.

The mission is simple: keep my head above water until January.  When the new year rolls around, I'll graduate, be done with the show that I'm co-assistant directing, and be let go from the photographer position I'm holding at the portrait studio for the holiday season.  Then, and only then, would I be able to calmly retreat from my life and receive help for my most recent and dramatic rock-bottom spiral.  Just three more months.
The red-flags were surrounding me like land-mines.  I had dropped all my meds, I was processing all of the nutritional numbers, but none of the nutrition, I was isolating, and the anxiety attacks.. oh, the anxiety attacks.  But, like we do, I ignored them all.  Nothing mattered but the ultimate goal: hold onto to my (imaginary) control.
There were three factors that played into aborting my oh-so-genius plan.  The first came on October 19th, the day that I would be told I was not only no longer above water, but I was already drowning.  I called Brie, my unfortunate partner in crime, having an unbearable panic attack at work.  Without delving back into the details, she insisted I go to the ER.  I told her I had to work, but didn't last long when I got back inside.  My mom took me to the hospital shortly after.
I was fine - and no one was particularly shocked - but this one wasn't getting past the two big guys (see also: drugs & therapy).  I had  appointments set up with each of them very shortly after.  Of course, the morning of those appointments (and I mean the morningest part of morning), is when factor two actually came along.  I was still full-blown on my "must please everyone else before saving my own life" path until this point, but there was really only one person that could've slapped me in the face the way that I needed to realize what I was doing to myself and everyone around me.  And he did.  And I was starting to realize that I didn't have it in me to finish everything I'd started anymore and I wouldn't.. until I went back.
Factor three wasn't so much a factor, because it was slightly against my will, but I saw the men.  I figured, perhaps they'd let me get away with some low-level outpatient for the next couple months.  However, my thought process was changing and I realized I wasn't going to make it strongly through the next three months at that point.
That afternoon, my mom and I found ourselves on the 5th floor - "upstairs" as some like to call it.  And there you have it.  It's my one year anniversary of the day I finally officially decided to kick the shit out of this thing and was admitted to the EDU.  I can't believe how much a person can change in a year.
My head's in a lot of different places right now.  This has been weirder for me to recall than I expected.  I guess it was kind of an intense experience, looking back on it..

Thursday, October 23, 2008

just meat and potatoes.

When I think about what I can do to change how the world looks at itself, I always get tripped up by 1 minor detail: self-image has been tripping us up since the beginning of time.  You can blame it on the models and MTV and "today's standards" all you want, but "today's standards" centuries ago were the same.  Women were literally breaking their ribs for "skinny".  If you think about it, though, we are always moving forward.  As I've learned from the following e-mail, we are improving.  We have more information than we've ever had before and we're using it.. and, more importantly, we're talking about it.
I received this e-mail a few days ago from a faithful reader, and one of my biggest fans of 22 years.  She's one of the most beautiful people I've ever known and it meant so much that she shared this story with me.  I knew weight has always been a problem in my family (does anyone's family not have that problem??), but this was a story I had yet to hear.
Hi Em,
I want you to know that you and your generation are so fortunate to have nutrition know-how.  When I was growing up, [I had] a mother that only worried about getting food on the table, and food that she was used to in europe. I didn't have a clue as to what to eat or fats or sugar or anything.  My mother was so frustraited with my being "SO FAT".  I was so unhappy and lonely in grammar school.  Everyone validated the fact that I was different.  That's where i developed my humor and kindness and always befriended the people that were not as cool as the beautiful ones who lived off their attractiveness.  I never could figure out what they had.  They were not kind.  They grouped together.  So i guess that was a good thing to have: to rely on what was inside of me.
When I got into high school, [my sister] Jeanie was married and she put me on a "diet," or "program" as they would call it today.  I started to lose weight and I ate only what she told me to eat.  I can remember being at a girlfriends house and she offered me an orange.  I actually called Jeanie to see if it was allright to eat it.
When I got married, there was a period when i was in my 30s that I lost a lot of weight and my hair got long and i was "HOT".  I can remember being out with Grandpa and we loved to dance and I would catch the looks of the guys sitting at the tables and all I could think was, "I'm the same person as i always was.  Where were you then... BASTARDS (I'm still angry).  I went to dances at school and would be excited, but all the time knowing that I would have to keep walking around the place so i didn't look like a wallflower.  What hurt was when my parents would ask if I'd had a good time and I lied and said "yes".
Anyway, as I said, the girls today have wonderful information at their disposal.  Some have eating disorders or whatever, but their problems come from different directions of their life.  I know today it isn't about" food".
I hope they have programs in the schools for girls and boys that come from a busy home that have no time to check what anybody is eating and their only company is a computer or a game thing and snacking.
I think the food pyramid was upside down then.  Oh wait... we never had one.  Just "meat and potatoes".
[my gramma, Natalie B, age 69]
[edits made with permission.]
I guess we sometimes take our progress for granted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

welcome back, october.

I wonder if I'm the only one that isn't just reminded of how I felt at a certain point of time (by a certain event or song, or just by how someone is reacting to me), but I feel it all over again as if it is physically happening to me at that exact time.  So many songs have such strong emotions attached to them that I can't even listen to them.  Even if the emotion is a good one, sometimes, it's actually too strong and I just can't handle it when I'm not in that mind-frame.

Weather is huge for me.  That's one of the reasons I love summer so much is because of the emotions that it holds me for me.  I've been through some pretty rough times during the colder seasons (besides your average case of SAD, but that never helps much).  Anniversaries come easy to me because there is a direct emotion attached to dates and seasons.  It's one of those weird things that I can just kind of feel.  Of course, this leaves me with reminders for anniversaries of things you wouldn't even think to mark, but it leads me to rock at birthdays and vet appointments.  The anniversary of my accident is May 24th and the anniversary of bringing home my baby boy (of the feline variety) is October 12th.

Three days ago was the anniversary of my last day at PortraitSimple, before I took medical leave.  I had such an absurd panic attack about the fact that I could possibly - accidentally - kill myself that my mom had to bring me to the ER so I could be reassured I wasn't on the verge of a heart attack.  There, of course, was no way of getting out of that one without a little extra hospital time.  I called my manager and told her I wouldn't be coming back for a while.  My next anniversary is in three days.

The emotions attached to this time of year are confusing for me.  The past 3 years, I've been in treatment around this time, or at least was approaching it.  Last year is the time that really stuck and everything that came with that is rushing back to me, now: how it felt to want to starve myself (for the record, I can feel the emotion; it doesn't mean I feel the urge to do so), how it felt to know that I was going to be forced to drop my whole life, my job, my education that I was so close to finishing, how it felt to know that I was letting everyone down that I loved, how embarrassing it would be to tell my friends that I'm going to have to go back to treatment.  At the same time, the weather is frighteningly similar right now as it is to the end of the winter when I was finishing up my treatment cycle at Walden.  Fuck, that felt good, but it's confusing to feel that emotion at the same time as those that came with the beginning of the process.

This is going to be an interesting winter for me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

friends don't let friends "fat talk".

As an advocate for body acceptance, I think this is a beautiful thing. (As a graphic designer [student], I have a crush on this video.) That aside, I think it needs to stop. The week is almost over, but it should continue on. Not just "fat" talk; all weight talk. Fat, skinny.. what does it matter?

On the other hand, where are the lines drawn? "Fat" and "thin" are just describing words. What makes these words lethal is that they also double as judgmental words. When you say something is thick, or soft, or yellow, you are describing them with fact. All of these words are adjectives and yet, at some point along the timeline, "fat" became a word that you can't say with judging, simultaneously.  Is it too late to change that?

thanks to a.s. for finding the above video ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

let there be light.

Sometimes, I really enjoy reading personal blog entries [on ED blogs] that are actually about the person and not their illness/recovery.  I like to know who I'm reading about and I know that eating disorders are not all that you guys are.  It's not all I am, either.

In my last entry, I briefly mentioned something about my religious beliefs.  Recently, this is a topic that has come up quite a bit with some people in my life, all completely unrelated.  I finally decided to gather all the chunks and pour it out, essay style.  If you have an interest in religion and other peoples' thoughts on it (or you just really love reading about me - whatever), feel free to read and comment.

Friday, October 10, 2008

..on Yom Kippur, it is sealed.

Yom Kippur (Yome Key-pour) was yesterday, marking the end of Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish "Day of Atonement".  Ahh, atonement.  How do we atone?  Well, the Talmud says that we atone by abstaining from sex, bathing, moisturizing, eating, and wearing leather shoes.  Now, this brings me around to a piece I've been working on about how outdated I feel most organized religious practices to be, but I'll save that for another time.  I believe the shoes I wore yesterday were not leather, but they were suede.  Sorry, God.

All besides the point.  Why do we abstain?  Because it is about denying ourselves pleasure on a day that we should not think about ourselves, but others and how we've wronged.. the world.  So, we fast.  Now, I'll save my rant for another day (and, probably my other blog), but come on now.  When we now know what food does for the body and how much we need it, we still give it up for a day because we're sorry?  And for what?

No, it is not required that you fast.  In fact, it is even forbidden for young children or those who would be put at some sort of *AHEM* medical risk by doing so (i.e. my whole family).  But, can't we atone while still nourishing ourselves?  It's not just a pleasure; it's how we live.  Should I sit and think about what I've done (which I shouldn't atone for only one day a year, if it was that awful) and deny myself oxygen?  ..Isn't denying ourselves food for 25 hours (yes, 25) really putting anyone at some sort of medical risk, healthy or not?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

jumping the fence.

One of my best friends - who had finished her last full treatment experience just before I had started mine - asked me one day, "Is it strange that I really miss the hospital sometimes?"  I didn't even have to think before responding that I did, too.  It's kind of like an old camp memory; it was controlled, it was structured, it was comforting.  There was no skimping on meals, or parts of meals, or buying and preparing groceries.  I also loved that I could knit all I wanted without worrying that I was blowing off something else I needed to get done.

Even some of the hardest times I went through aren't things that I look back on with any form of regret.  There were some really painful moments, obviously, but I made it through them.  I, of course, could have lived without the writhing-in-pain from refeeding, the prison-like shower stalls, and having to ask permission *every time* I had to use the bathroom, let alone the fact that they would stand there and listen.  Come on now, treatment can't be totally cool..

I do, however, really miss the environment in the out-patient programs.  I wish there was some way - without 3 under- and post-grad degrees - that I could go back to be on the other side of the process.  I kind of loved the end of my treatment cycle, when I was so done with being there and could no longer emotionally relate to my group, but was told how much I had helped them as I "improved" (for lack of a better word).  That's all I want to do.

I'm not sure what it is about the hospital environment, but I love it.  There must be a way to be apart of it without an MD.. or a wristband.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

wow, have you put on weight?

Tonight, I was talking to my friend about how I was trying to gain weight.  He asked me what happened that I had lost so much and - being open about what I've been through - I told him I had been working on recovering from anorexia.  After explaining (the short version, of course) and telling him that I was now working hard to pull my weight (literally) on the physical end, he replied with, "Wow, I had been thinking you'd put on a little weight."
"Yeah, it looks like you've gained a few pounds!"
That, my friends, totally made my night.  I felt like most women seem to feel when their friends tell them, "Wow, have you lost weight?"
Does anyone else wonder why the number of women trying to gain weight doesn't balance the number of women trying to lose?  That always bothers me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

a burning torch that's turned upside down..

"Quod me nutrit me destruit."

Class, raise your hand if you know what this Latin phrase means?  WHOA, chill out, I said 'raise your hand'!  Okay, so you've all been doing your Latin homework, apparently.  Good for you guys.  Now, raise your hand if this phrase haunts you.

Me too.

For those who don't study Latin or an infamous, terrifyingly-tragic web community, the above phrase translates into, "What nourishes me also destroys me."  Often used in association with fun - yet destructive - lifestyles (drugs, sex, and rock & roll?), this is also the unofficial motto of the pro-eating disorder community.  So, as that is how the phrase is most commonly found, I thought it would be interesting to delve deeper into its origin.

This particular line actually has no known author or source within classic Latin literature.  It is a spin-off phrase that comes from "Quod me alit, me extinguit," which means, "What feeds me, extinguishes me," or "Qui me alit, me extinguit," meaning, "Who feeds me, extinguishes me."  The second one gives a much different meaning to the overall idea.  This was first printed on a portrait of a student (believed to be Christopher Marlowe) of Corpus Christi College (Cambridge, UK).  A few years after the portrait was estimated to be done (1585), Shakespeare wrote the play, "Pericle, Prince of Tyre," in which the line appears in Act II, Scene II.

It's nice to associate the phrase with something other than starvation.  Maybe we can spread the concept.