Don’t Die(t)

You’re 15, You pick up a magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store with your mom; skimming through, you see an ad for dietary supplements and an overabundance of workout plans in accompany to taking the pills. Curiosity begins to take over and you start with some of the workout plans, under-eating, and adding apple cider vinegar to your water. Ten days go by and you don’t see the results that the magazine promised- where did you go wrong? Maybe working out a little longer, a little harder is something you pick up for the next ten days. But still, no results. The initial reaction is to up the calories out- but then, suddenly, your body gently reminds that you have to eat- or do you?

Combining a high caloric deficit with an intense work out should do the trick. This time, is the time you reach happiness. After a couple of months, your diet is no longer working, triggering the hunt for a new diet that promises twice the weight-loss, in half the time. Only this time around, you have to work your way into convincing your mother that this diet is still healthy and you won’t be on it for too long. That couldn’t be further from the truth; you will never reach happiness, and the diets will end only for the next fad diet to take hold of your precious life, shortly after. But those magazines won’t warn you, the back of the pill bottle won’t tell you that besides the weight you’ll lose, you will also lose yourself, your family, the relationship you once had with food, and your friends.

Your weakened heart will beg you to stop there, but every pill or body that is smaller than yours, will keep you hooked. The euphoric feeling you get after your body sets into starvation mode from the caloric deficit, will keep you hungry for more. Food will soon be something you see as a threat and the trust you once had with your body’s hunger cues, are non-existent. You’re now 18, and it’s time for what was supposed to be your high school graduation, but instead, you are laying in a hospital bed. You have severe anemia, lanugo, and your teeth are so brittle from all the nutrients you said “no” to, that biting into anything will crumble your teeth. Upon being discharged, a nurse offered you a pamphlet on a treatment center for disordered eating- you kindly decline.

Coming home was not easy. Your mother says that in order for you to live here, you must sign-in to treatment. Internally, in the semi-healed mind from the recent hospital visit, you know your mother has a point- you need help. But, those thoughts of seeking treatment were abruptly cut off by the disordered voice. You choose to move out so you can pursue your ideal body, your ideal weight, and how could I forget the one thing you were chasing after all along- happiness. See, the one part you failed in, is the one you thought you wouldn’t; you fell for the tricks, the sweet talk of the pill pushers, and the persuasive photoshopped bodies.

Soon enough, your weight no longer shifts. You feel as though you can’t walk more than a few feet without becoming fatigued, and your heart is working twice or thrice as hard. Eventually, the strong and full heart you once had at 15, finally had enough. Your organs began shutting down one-by-one to support your heart, but you didn’t notice. You praised yourself for feeling worse because oddly enough, in some twisted way, it must mean that it’s working. Your mother spent the night at your apartment because you weren’t feeling well, even though you said you were fine. The following morning, you continued to take weight-loss supplements, scarfed down the bundle of vitamins and pills the doctors prescribed to you, with a large cup of coffee. You stood up too fast for your empty body and heart to handle. Soon enough, you were back in the hospital with more damage to your vital organs than you could have ever perceived happening.

Diets work for some, but those who are predisposed to eating disorders, begin at a young age, or even “test the waters” can get hooked for life- literally. Don’t Die(t) for a body or happiness that is unattainable through changing how much you eat or, by taking some wonder pill.

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20s: More Self-love and Saying Yes.

Okay, so, buckle up because I am about to share some pretty cool news with you! I am turning 21 in a little over a month and it just clicked- I can’t exactly explain the feeling or, pinpoint the word for what it was that actually clicked but, I can say that I feel more free and more in love, more accepting of myself- all of me. It started the night before when I just let myself eat what I was craving, and shot down the negative self-talk that I couldn’t eat a Chipotle burrito and enjoy it- but why the fuck not?? So I did it- I ate my fear food, it felt pretty damn good. I then allowed myself to just enjoy a movie and not workout intensely after eating my dinner.

I woke up this morning feeling accomplished and well rested. I felt satisfied with not engaging in any disordered eating thoughts- continuing that streak this morning, getting a bagel and coffee. I wore an outfit that I am typically insecure in but pushed through because deep down, the only thing I didn’t “love” about the outfit, was my body in it. I made it my goal to push through and love what I was wearing, despite the high anxiety I felt about my body in it. I told myself that I get this one life, this one body, and I am choosing to waste my energy and time hating it, why? Accepting your body for what it is and appreciating how far it has gotten you is essential to living a truly free, unapologetic life.

After my bagel and cold brew, I took myself on a mini shopping spree because I deserved it, because I wanted to. I bought all of my favorite sweaters that keep me cozy in the fall, and yoga pants that hug me in all the right places. I looked into trips to the Nappa Valley (wine country) for my 21st, because, it was time that I lived and said yes to myself more often. Said yes to the adventures and trips that gave me anxiety and a whole list of worries. It was time that I said yes to my heart and explored the world outside of PA. Saying yes to myself more, meant that I was saying no to the negative thoughts- opening the doors to new opportunities.

So here is a wish from me, a girl in her 20s, to you: Love your whole self, every inch, and life will love you back just as much, if not more. Say yes to the things that give you little butterflies in your belly- those will be good memories, ones that will make you breathe a little deeper each time you remember them. And lastly, say no to the things or people that don’t make you feel good or enough- you are so, very much, enough.

Making Amends: What Little Kids Have Taught Me

Little kids have that unapologetic part of them that they, for the most part, grow out of. I nanny in the summer and it has brought so many new ways of thinking into my life; each year a child touches my life in different ways than the last. This year, I got lucky. One of the kids I am nannying is as carefree as can be; she hands-down does not give a sh*t about what others think of her- it is so freeing to watch her take on the world everyday.

Unfortunately, kids outgrow this care-free charisma and mold into the person society wants them to be: not too pudgy, wipe the cupcake off your face before anyone sees, don’t laugh too loud, don’t eat too much, don’t wear clothes that don’t match. And Lord help us all, if your kid is caught eating a donut when they are already carrying a belly- shame on you. I can’t imagine how much the world has changed, as she begins to grow into the age where she hears her friends becoming a little more self-aware of their looks, or how they are viewed in the eyes of the individuals around them.

This might be the last summer she is in the stage of being unapologetically her. She has taught me so much about myself and the way I perceive food. She has taught me that eating leftover batter with a spoon can be fun, despite the horrendous cleanup after baking. I learned that not everything is about calories, exercising, or “eating clean”- it was all about listening to our bodies, loving them for what they are. She has taught me that the sound of my voice is nothing to be afraid of and something that I should make louder; she has taught me to speak my mind. I never knew that a 6 year old would teach me to love myself in areas that I lacked most in.

With all my heart, thank you to all the kids that I have nannied, the ones who have been care-free and taught me that it’s okay to be me, unapologetically, me.

No, I Don’t Want a Hug

No, I don’t want a hug all tight and snug.

No, I don’t want a hug.

I don’t want a hug, I will feel like a suffocating bug.

No, I don’t want a hug.

I have been pulled through the mud like a slug.

No, I still don’t want your hug.

For when we are hugged all tight and snug, we begin to feel small.

We were made small when we stood tall by someone we could trust.

No, I don’t want your hug because it will turn into lust.

Burnt Out: When a Hiatus isn’t enough

I have taken a small break from the world of blogging, podcast making, and social media posting; life has been far too hectic. But to catch everyone up, I just celebrated 28 days sober… and then relapsed. But hey, at least I am starting fresh again, right? Just kidding it is a shit show. School (my job) is ending on the 14th of this month and I am way beyond ready to be done. My college courses don’t end for another 10 days after that but, I am so close to being done that those 14 days are on the horizon. My therapist moved which is also why I took a mini vaca from everyone and everything because to be frank- it sucks. We still do video sessions but it is not the same.

This summer, I am working as a camp counselor (clearly I don’t understand the definition of a break) at a travel camp- should be fun. I am not the traveling type but, I do need to get pushed out of my comfort zone and explore a little. I should be typing my outline for this bogus public speaking class but I would much rather type about the feeling of being burnt out.

I find that there is a huge line between being tired and burnt-out. I experienced tired and let me tell you, this is nothing like what I was feeling a few months ago. I have no energy or motivation to do tasks like typing a paper or even cooking a meal for myself. I have let go of all expectations I had for my students within the last week of school because in all honesty, they are just as done as I am. Metaphorically speaking, it is almost like someone in their brain pulled the bulb out and won’t replace it until June 14th (the last day of school).

Life is exhausting and thrilling all at the same time. You never know what you’re going to experience after you walk out the door for the first time that day. Being burnt out blinds you of how beautiful the little things in life are; how the wind gently brushes your baby hairs just enough to make them look like a wild sea of curls. Being burnt out leaves your emotions out to dry and suffocates your plans of accomplishments.

I guess the point of this entry is to remind you to take a break. Take a real break. If you can, take off from work, power down your cell, and just take some time to reconnect with yourself and listen to how your body is feeling; what kind of thoughts are going through your mind?

Breaking the Glamorized Road to Recovery

I find myself thinking about what post-recovery me will be like; I also hear the statement “I just want my old self back”. Do I really though? Because quite frankly, the person I remember prior to the disorder was not emotionally or mentally comfortable. I was not the best version of myself that I could be. In-fact, I think that recovery wouldn’t last very long for anyone in that matter if individuals returned to who they were prior to their illness. What is the point of working so hard for your life only to return to the same state of mind that sent you in for a nose dive in the first place? In theory, our mind thinks that the person we were prior to the illness is who are meant to be, but that is the person that the illness brought out in us. Recovery is about breaking the habit of thinking who we should be and really thinking about how free we will feel. It’s about breaking the thought that everyone’s recovery is all sunshine and rainbows- no one recovery is alike. Recovery is not meant to be comparison pictures you post on instagram about how much weight you have gained or how fit you have become; definitely be proud of those accomplishments but, also remember that recovery is getting the mind to a healthy place. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Thoughts about how your recovery should go and comparing yourself to another in recovery will hinder your process more than you realize. It is easier said than done but reminding yourself to just breathe will help you ground yourself when things are getting a little too overwhelming. Another overly glamorized misconception that rarely has any light shed on is the fact that relapses in recovery DO HAPPEN! Individuals who have not been in the recovery process themselves will immediately jump to the conclusion that relapse is a “failed” attempt at getting better. Relapses are so normal and clinicians expect it to happen- try your best to not get discouraged, rather pick yourself back up and continue where you left off… you are human! Having a bad day is totally normal but don’t stay in those bad days. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, madness, happiness, or confusion that comes with this life altering choice- feeling is important, don’t push it down if it is too painful, learn how to sit with your feelings and tolerate them. Feelings can be icky but they are an essential component in the recovery process.

As always,

You are loved. You are worthy of healing. You are wanted.

XOXO, Claud

Cycle of Defeat

Defeat. One word, six letters, and two syllables that carry so much weight. Some days, it’s “just one of those days” when it feels like the universe is against us and no matter what, we can’t seem to catch our breath. Today is one of those days for me. It’s one of those days when literally and quite honestly, everything feels “wrong”. I had purged yet again after consuming what most would see as a normal thin-slice of cake. I turn to my safe-haven, the shower, a place where I could purge and watch my guilt slowly wash down the drain. A place where the water echoed and drowned out the coughing sounds of me chocking on my vomit. kneeling on the floor of my shower, hunched over, and crying at the immense feelings of regret. As I looked down, I saw the stomach that I despise more than I could describe; tears and negative comments were flowing and the question “why” was repeated on a loop. Needless to say, I felt defeated. We have all gone through a period of time when we avoided looking in the mirror because the reflection of who we have become, is much scarier than facing the very problems we are running from. Holding hands with our depression, our regrets, and anxious minds are the very things that have us feeling defeated. Attempting to live up to who others think we should be is damaging to who we really are. Feeling defeated in a way is sort of comforting; we don’t have to be afraid that in any moment, our happiness will once again become a foreign feeling. While that thought process is understandable, taking a moment to ask ourselves: wouldn’t we rather enjoy parts of life (even if those periods of enjoyment are short) than live in a constant state of defeat? It is up to us to change our thinking; sometimes, the way we perceive a situation is not truly looking at all of the facts. Changing our view and the way we think is not only important, but is also crucial to how soon we get out of the cycle of defeat.

As always,

you are worthy of love, you are needed, and matter.

xoxo, Clauds