Tag Archives: meditation

Yellow Brick Recovery Road

26 Sep

As I read my daily meditation for mindful eating this morning, it had a wonderful quote that has really helped me pull back from the struggle I’ve been having for the past several weeks and I thought I’d share it.

“What saves man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”

           – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, pilot and poet

 What words of wisdom. Often times, when I’m struggling with my eating disorder, I feel overwhelmed and helpless. Through the tears, I beg someone to save me, give me some way out of the constant mental struggle. But deep down, I know another can never bring me out the anorexia- only I can. I know the step I need to take in order to keep going on the recovery path better than anyone else. My support team can help me along the road, but they can’t pull me along– I have to take the steps to walk there.

 I often picture the recovery path similar to the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz. Just like Dorothy, I have to battle my anorexia, like the Wicked Witch of the West, but I wish it was as simple as a pail of water. Too bad EDs can’t just melt… that would solve a lot. Instead of flying monkeys, I daily fight off tears, anxiety, and self-negativity. And don’t get me started on the Dark Forest metaphors I have… scales, and calories, and fat… OH MY!!!

 My ED  screeches, “I’ll get you my pretty and your little happiness, too! Hahahaha!” It offers me an escape from the pressure and anxiety of reality- for a few days I’m transported to a Technicolor world filled with fantasy, but also much danger, until I realize, all I really want to do is return to my happy, little Kansas life.

 At the end of these hard periods, though, I find like Dorothy, that the solution was with me all along. Although you could say tapping two ruby slippers together is easier than recovery, the concept is the same. There is no wizard to set you free from self-hatred and body bashing- it’s only an illusion of powerlessness. You can choose to keep walking on the Yellow Brick Recovery Road, like I did this week- reach out to your Glendas, fight your Wicked Witches, and find who you really are.

“Pay no attention to the ED behind the curtain”… the power to walk on is in you alone.

 

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Seven Steps to a Good Day

9 Aug

Do you ever feel like an Alexander? You know the one. Yep, I do. I hate those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days. And entrenched in my eating disorder, I used to have a lot of them. Life wasn’t fun… at all. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything right- that no matter how hard I tried, the only thing I succeeded at was being thin. But I wasn’t happy.

Don’t get me wrong- Life still seems to think my name is Alexander sometimes. Recovery is not easy-it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done- and I have my share of breakdowns, anxiety attacks, and “fat phases.” But the hard days become less and less frequent and I’ve slowly started figuring out that a “bad” day isn’t a product of fate alone. We have the ability to create a good day and avoid those ones filled with lima beans, no cereal prize, and soap in your eyes. Here are the ten steps I have come up with to ensure my day is as good as it can be, whether in recovery from an ED or not:

1. Pack the night before. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you I love to travel and HATE to pack. Packing suitcases, packing lunch, packing boxes- doesn’t matter. Even though I’m an organization freak, there’s something about packing that I absolutely dread. So to avoid feeling anxious in the morning, I have made it a habit to pack everything I need for the next day, including my computer, materials for work, book, lunch, etc. the night before. It’s nice to wake up and not have such a sour chore to ruin my morning.

2. Stick with Structure. For months after I left inpatient treatment for my ED, I struggled immensely. Looking back now, I realize I falsely believed then that there was nothing to fill my time. The over-exercising, starving, bingeing, purging became a game to occupy my underused mind. Now, I have many appointments and work to go to that occupy most of my days, but I still add to my schedule to create more structure for myself. Even on days off and weekends, I still pencil activities in on my calendar. That way, if the ED pipes up with a suggestion, I can counter with, “Oh, that’s really too bad. I’d love to [insert: starve, binge, purge, run fifteen miles, crunch to exhaustion] but I’m too busy today. See? My calendar is filled up. We’ll have to reschedule for another day when I have nothing written down to do.” Which will be never…

It doesn’t mean that I have to fill every single second of the day; it simply means if I have large blocks of time, I pre-plan what I’m going to do, even if it’s just read, take a nap, or watch something on TV. And I don’t stick to the schedule rigorously, but it’s a fall back plan if I feel the anxiety of empty time beginning to rise or the ED starting to whine.

3. ” A Teaspoon of Sugar helps the medicine go down…” Life is stressful and a little bit like Robitussin, my least favorite medicine- sometimes the best thing you can do is accept it and swallow as quick as you can. Oh, and follow it with Mary Poppin’s famous remedy. In my case, I always plan one thing that makes me excited, that’s just for me, when I’m scheduling everything on my calendar for the following day. That way, when I wake up, I don’t think about what I’m going to have to swallow and endure that day, but rather the sweetness that will follow. Today, my “teaspoon of sugar” was going to photography class, but in the past I’ve also planned:

  • an early morning yoga class
  • coffee with a friend
  • eating a packed lunch in a different location(outside on a bench, at a park on the grass, on the porch…)
  • window shopping after work
  • renting a Redbox movie Continue reading

How to Wash Away the Worry

30 Jan

How many of you wake up and almost immediately, a little voice inside your head starts yapping, nagging you about all the things that must be done that day? Do you hear the worry mind, too? It adds task after task to the mental agenda and pretty soon The List gets a mile long.

In an ominous voice, the perfectionistic voice inside commands, “You HAVE to take your vitamins, feed the dog, make your bed, take a shower, do your makeup, curl your hair, drive Mom to work, get to the bank, pick up the family’s dry cleaning, google directions to that doctor’s appointment, call that client, check your work schedule for this week, buy supplies for Catherine’s wedding card, call your grandmother to check on her, check your email, return those library books, get gas, get to work on time… oh and you MUST LOOK PERFECT, COMPLETE THE ENTIRE LIST PERFECTLY, AND ACT PERFECTLY HAPPY DOING IT.”

Just hearing that everything that day must go perfectly makes me want to perfectly crawl back under the covers. If I get too overwhelmed, my eating disorder gets flared up. My ED uses The List as an excuse… “See, you are/are going to be too busy to eat today. Restrict and you’ll make both the yapping, worrying mind AND me happy.” But instead of listening to them, I hop into the shower and wash away my worries… Here’s how I do it:

1.  Acknowledge the mind’s voice. When I first tried quieting the endless jabbering and nagging, I did it by telling my mind to “Shut up already!” I quickly found that the mind doesn’t like this. It wants to be heard and it HATES being ignored. It’s kind of like a little kid who wants to show his mom something… he won’t stop saying, “Mommy, mommy… look at this,” until she acknowledges him. If Mommy says, “Later, Timmy…” do you think he’s going to stop? No. In the same way, acknowledge that the mind is talking and worried. I generally silently say, “Yes, I know I have lots to do today, but right now, I can only do this one task. I’ll worry about the rest of the list later.” You’ll find that this pacifies the mind because it’s been heard, not ignored. Continue reading

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