Category Archives: Mental Health

Reflections on a Year in Recovery

It’s been a year since I was discharged from Opal Food and Body after entering intensive eating disorder treatment for my third and hopefully last time. A year since I hit publish on a blog where I opened up about the silent battle I’d been waging for 20 years. A year since I felt like I got a new lease on life. A year since I finally felt like I could be me – ALL of me. 

And what a year it’s been.

I wish I could say it’s been all filled with sunshine and puppies and unicorns farting rainbows. At some points, it has been. At other points, it’s been, hands down, some of the hardest times and moments in my life. 

But as I reflect back on this anniversary, I embrace both how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.  So let’s start with the tougher stuff that I didn’t expect.

Content Warning: Discussions of eating disorder thoughts, anxiety and depression. No weights, numbers, or specific eating disorder behaviors discussed.

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Navigating Eating Disorder Recovery During a Global Pandemic

As I chatted with a friend on FaceTime the other week, I made the joke: “I dunno…maybe the silver lining of this pandemic is it will cure me of my eating disorder?!?”

While it was a joke (there’s no such thing as being “cured” of an eating disorder), for a few weeks, I had noticed that my eating disorder thoughts had subsided. Likely, the thoughts probably subsided because my old OCD habits and rituals had flared something awful, and I found panic around COVID-19 to be all-consuming. I was so caught up in my fears about catching a virus, that the fears about foods seemed to melt away. 

Clearly, it’s not that easy (as much as I wanted it to be). As I’ve settled into a new normal, and the OCD and fears around COVID-19 have quieted, guess what is still hanging in there? Yeah, the eating disorder.

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The State of Things: Fear, Anxiety, and Balancing Mental and Physical Health

When I was 6 years old, if I couldn’t get to sleep by 7:30pm, I would start crying hysterically. I was convinced I was going to die if I couldn’t fall asleep by then. 

When I was 7 years old, I was positive our house was going to burn down and I was on the second floor. I forced my parents to buy me an escape ladder and even refused to sleep in my room out of fear. 

When I was 8 years old, I learned about a thing called HIV/AIDS. I spent several months unable to play with any other kids on the playground for fear of touching a cut of theirs. I started to wash my hands several hundred times a day until they cracked and bleed. I was petrified of other people.

When I was 10 years old, I became intensely afraid of becoming pregnant (let’s ignore the fact I didn’t start my period until I was 14). I read an article in YM Magazine about a girl who got pregnant from a toilet seat, and I refused to use public bathrooms for years. I wouldn’t let my dad use the bathroom I used in our house. I couldn’t leave the house some days because I refused to sit on chairs in public for fear that there could be sperm on the chair that could somehow impregnate me. I was paralyzed, and I couldn’t go anywhere.

(Yup, I shit you not. That one really happened…ask my poor father).

Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I went to therapy. They put me on meds. Things slowly got better as I started to face my fears and dispel the fear of the unknown.

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