Thursday, February 27, 2014
With anything in life, we as humans tend to have preconceived ideas of what something, someone, or someplace should look like, feel like or be like. Embarking on the unknown and at the time, very scary path of treatment, I had a million and one preconceived ideas of what this treatment thing was going to be. I thought ‘I am not going to fit in’, ‘I am not sick enough to be in a treatment center’, ‘everyone is going to wonder why someone as fat as me was in a place for skinny people’. All of these thoughts plus so many more swarmed around in my mind manifesting my fear into a paralyzing state. The one tricky thing about Anorexic’s is we don’t realize how sick we really are until it is too late. I knew the doctors were telling me my organs were shutting down, I was fully aware that I passed out in the middle of a busy street in Tulsa while I was running, I was aware the ambulance had to be called in to assist me during a track workout (I blamed both times I passed out on the hot summer temperatures), I heard my therapist when she told me she didn’t think I was going to be able to kick this preoccupation with food and exercise on my own, I was smart enough to comprehend insurance and that insurance companies would not pay for just anyone to enter a treatment center. Yet, I still was unable to realize that I had an illness serious enough for me utilize a resource for help. After all I strived daily for perfection, I could do anything I set my mind to, I wore a cape under my day clothes and when things got hard I pushed harder and made it happen. When my mother and I arrived in Denver the reality of the situation became very clear and with clarity came anger. I was never one to express my emotions well; in fact the only emotion I could express well was happiness and let’s be clear, I was as far from happy as one could get. So when the time came for my mother to leave me at the Eating Recovery Center (ERC), similar to a mother leaving a toddler at daycare for the first time, I believe I said something along the line of “if you leave me here then don’t expect to have a daughter anymore” or something like that. I actually have no recollection of this statement or much memory of the last couple of months leading up to treatment. When we don’t feed our bodies….brace yourself for this epic announcement….our minds are not fed either. Being my brain was not working at it highest capacity when I went into treatment I have had to rely on my mother and her memory to shared with me some of the things I said to her as she left me kicking and screaming, and to be honest I am surprised she still wanted to be mother when I got out. As my journey started at ERC the mountain in front seemed far too great to climb. Everything that I thought I loved in my life was taken away and everything that was uncomfortable was brought to the forefront. Yet over the course of three months the unhealthy life I had lived for years was becoming a distant memory and I surprisingly found myself embracing the new lease on life I had been given. I will be honest, treatment was not fun but it led me to a life that I can now enjoy, it introduced to me to some extraordinary people who grew to be called friends and I looked up to daily for their strength, resilience, and grace. I often times sat in admiration of the fellow ERC patients who surrounded me, the group was so diverse yet so similar. Each person was beyond incredible; I was convinced world peace could be a reality if the heads, hearts, and hands of these extraordinary people worked together. The IQs were off the charts and I was blown away by how inwardly and outwardly stunning every patient was. Those million and one preconceived thoughts….very few were actually accurate.
Posted by Jen at 5:39 PM
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Sometimes it is the most unexpected events which change the trajectory of our life’s journey in an unanticipated way. Two years ago, my life as I knew it changed suddenly when my mother showed up on my doorstep, packed up my apartment, put all my belongings into storage and loaded me up in the car. Yes, I was 32 years old, yet I had no strength to fight my mother regarding her will to drive me 700 miles from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado. You see, my mother’s will to save my life was greater than my will to lose it. I had been battling an eating disorder for 15 years, visited therapist after therapist and finally in the summer of 2011, I hit 100 lbs and rock bottom. My mother, in collaboration with my therapist at the time, staged an intervention and my life as I knew it was no more. Everything was arranged for me to arrive at an inpatient facility in Denver on October 18, 2011. The few months following proved to be both the hardest and best months of my life. All of my control was taken away; I was exposed, vulnerable, and for the first time, forced to face my hurts, my pains, and my fears. I grew, I changed, I ate, I talked, I cried, I lived! It continues to be a daily journey to remember to eat, to want to eat, to not use food, or the lack of food, to escape my problems. Nonetheless, the all-encompassing journey has led me here today.
Posted by Jen at 1:55 PM
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Eating disorders are very complex in nature according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) they “arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors”. There has been a plethora of research done on the complexities of eating disorders yet there is still so much learning to be done. The propensity of eating disorders is become so prevalent that it is very likely that everybody knows somebody inflicted by disordered eating. 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Anorexia nervosa (significantly reduced appetite or complete aversion to eating), bulimia nervosa (binge-eating followed by overcompensation for the behavior by over-exercising and purging), binge eating (uncontrollable eating), and ‘other specified feeding or eating disorder’ are all spokes off of the eating disorder wheel. Although I can pinpoint the exact trigger that led to my 15 years of darkness, there were many factors that perpetuated the cycle of destruction in my life. My journey started as I stood in line for the school bus during my freshman year in high school; a male classmate of mine made a comment to me about my size and that is all that needed to occur to send me into a tailspin. I already had very low self-esteem and was surrounded by women in my family who engaged in disordered eating, so when Chris made his comment to me it was the last straw. Individuals suffering from disordered eating typically are great at hiding their behaviors, yet there are warning signs that can be spotted if you fear a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder. Here is a small list for Anorexia….dramatic weight loss, preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, dieting, and exercise, refusal to eat certain foods, withdrawal from usual friends and activities. Bulimia….unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area, calluses on the back of hands and knuckles, discoloration or staining of teeth, withdrawal from usual friends and activities, excessive exercise. For both Anorexia and Bulimia in general, behaviors and attitudes are focused completely around weight loss, dieting, control over food, and exercise.
Posted by Jen at 10:36 PM
When I was younger I remember hearing about awareness days, weeks, and months. Never did they really resonate to me and I guess a lot of that was due in part to not being effect personally by any of the illnesses that were brought to the forefront during these different times. However as I got older I found myself taking note of Breast Cancer awareness month, after losing my grandmother to the disease, Brain Tumor Action week after losing my cousin to Brain Cancer at the age of 6. Furthermore National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, as a person who has recovered from anorexia, this is a personally significant week for me, after battling the relentlessness of Anorexia for over 15 years. I am going to spend this week sharing a snap shot of my journey, signs and symptoms to the diseases, and support you can provide if you fear a loved one is within the tight grasp of an eating disorder.
Posted by Jen at 12:25 PM
Saturday, February 22, 2014
I am sure you all have been waiting on the edge of your seat to know whether or not sprinkles were showered down on me or if I continued to experience a day that resulted in an earlier than normal bedtime. I am happy to report that my day which started out less than ideal did a 180 degree turnaround as I was stepping out of the office door last week; my work world as I knew it would be no more. After weeks of being in a position of growth, emotionally and mentally I was told on this less than ideal day that I was going to be starting in a new role, not in two weeks, not next week, but the following morning. Although talks of this change had been buzzing for nearly the same amount of time in which I resided in the position of growth, the reality of the talks coming to fusion were almost too much for me. I was over the moon, I was ecstatic, I was nearly in tears. Not only was this new role going to provide an opportunity to learn, to grow as a professional, to be challenged mentally, and also to interface with leaders within the organization; it was also going to provide the opportunity to work with an incredibly amazing team. As I face this new journey with a pep in my step and a huge smile in heart I am reminded of the following quote;
Posted by Jen at 6:30 PM
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
We here in Colorado have had a great snow year, and you would know this to be true in that I didn’t purchase a ski pass for the first time since moving to Colorado. After the sorry excuse of a ski season last year I chose to save the dough and the knees and go ski pass free this year…..for those of you enjoying the great powder this year, you are welcome. All this to say, when there is a great ski year in the mountains there typically are a few flakes seen down here in Denver. We have experienced a few flakes plus a couple buckets more. The reasons I love Colorado are endless, but the reason most associated with this post is the snow and winters; that we don’t tend to have blistering cold like I am use to from Oklahoma. That changed this past week when we had snow, lots of it, and cold. That kind of cold that makes you want to stay in bed, curled up in a fetal position, and refusing to even let a toe sneak out from under the covers. So you can understand my complete discontent when my alarm went off at 4am and I had to somehow muster the mental strength to get out of bed. Let’s be honest, I have to muster up mental strength everyday when my alarm goes off, 4am is not a normal hour for anyone on this great planet to be awake much less out of bed. There are many mornings my mind is as sharp as a spoon, however this particular morning my mind was as sharp as water. I often find myself frustrated when my watery mind does not give me any indication that it is not going to function at any level of competency. As I slugged around the house trying to get ready and then out the door to the bus I was void of any brain waves. I am not sure if it was the bitter cold or the fact my mind finally decided to join the land of the living but as I made my regular morning trek to the bus I stopped dead in my tracks and realized I not only forgot my lunch at home, but I also forgot my wallet at my boyfriends place. It was far too late to turn back, I foolishly left no room for mental error this particular morning….I had a bus to catch. It was while I was thinking about what a bear I was going to be turning into come lunch time that I found myself falling to the ground. I guess in my intense contraction on food or lack thereof that was my belly was going to see during the day I hit a spot of ice and my feet went out from under me. I lay on the ground looking up at the falling snow seriously considering turning around and just going back to bed. But I heard Charles Spurgeon say ‘by perseverance the snail reached the ark’. So I pulled myself by the boot straps and continued on my journey. Nearing the bus station I reached in my pocked to check the time and noticed my cell phone was missing. Did it fall out of my pocket during the fall and I didn’t notice, I thought to myself. So I turned around and back tracked my almost 3 block walk from fall to bus station. No phone anywhere to be found, I was hoping it was on the counter with my aging lunch. By this point I had mentally prepared myself for seeing the red tail lights of the bus as I approach the station. To my surprise all of my bus buddies were still standing there in the blistering cold waiting. I, honestly by the grace of God made it, but not without perseverance. With three strikes against me before 5:45am I was hopeful the remainder of the day would rain sprinkles on me. Sprinkles were exactly what I received. To be continued………..
Posted by Jen at 8:17 PM
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
I promised a play by play of a recent adventure that ranks among the top of most Epic of public humiliations. Let me set the stage for you…I had been home from the office for 2 days after being diagnosed with pneumonia. I found myself getting a touch of cabin fever so I felt I was safe to travel out into the land of the living. When I say safe, what I guess I really mean is that I had been on antibiotics for 2 days so I was not contagious. Wait, can pneumonia even be spread from one human to another? If it can then I was safe from a medical perspective, either way my feet posed to be a huge danger and anyone around was at risk. The adventure started out like any other typical outing, I pulled up at the store front, got out of the car, locked it and headed inside. I was on a mission to find an accent table for my living room. You see I have gone 10 years of living on my own without any tables in my living room. This always seems to pose a problem when guests are over and they want to place their beverages somewhere other than the floor. The lack of furniture is not due to a lack of hunting for that perfect piece, I have been on this mission for a few years now. I am not sure if this shortage of essential items in my home is due to the fact I am educated in interior design and I don’t want something in my home that does not fit perfectly or if I am just so picky that something more or less must jump out in front of me before I am sold on the item and feel it would be a great addition to my living space. Now might be a good time to let you know that I went 6 months without furniture when I moved into my first place after college. I slept on a blow up mattress and I sat on an exercise ball to read in the evening. Which for the record was not too bad, I never had those days when I felt like being lazy and staying in bed for a bit longer than normal, and I had killer abs being when I got tired of reading I just busted out a few crunches. Nonetheless I felt it imperative to my social life that I invest in at least something to sit on in my living room. There seems to be a golden thread through this post….my living room is a torn to my interior design side. Back to the humiliation at hand…as I was looking through all the accent tables at said store I found a table that I thought would be a perfect fit. Could it be so….have I FINALLY, after a long arduous journey, found a piece of furniture I thought would not only fit, but be a perfect fit for my living room? I was in slight disbelief that this could actually be happening to me, I looked over that table with a fine tooth comb. I was certain there was going to be scratch, a broken drawer, something. After very little time spent, I found the scratch that knocked the table out of contention and realized it was not meant to be. But I really liked the piece so I asked if there were any others in the back. Can you believe it, there was, and it was all wrapped up prudy in a box, which to me meant scratch free. A sales associate helped me to the front of the store so I could purchase this awesome, rustic, perfect table. The transaction was made and off to the car the sales associate and I went. I took my boyfriends SUV to the store with the knowledge that if I found something it was not going to fit into my car. As fate may have it, the table was not fitting into his car either. The back seats needed to be folded down if we were going to have any success in getting this table home. Isn’t it said that those ‘things worth having takes a lot of effort, time, diligence, and patients’…or something like that? I was trying to fold down the sets and was not having success so a phone call ensued. Help was provided and the need for more space was a reality. After folding down the backseat on the driver’s side I navigated to other side of the car to fold down the remainder of the row. Success was had, the table now fit, and as I was hanging up I met face to face the asphalt of the parking lot. That silly cart that had brought my table to the car somehow sprouted legs and moved itself right in my path. I didn’t notice this before finding myself on the ground, scraped up, bruised, all the items from my pockets strewn out everywhere, and my pride…it dies right then and there. I went home and have not left since.
Posted by Jen at 6:56 PM
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Is there any way to turn back time? You see I had this new year's resolution to start blogging daily or at least weekly again, like I did during those days when I guess I didn't have a life. Yet in my defense I am fully convinced I went to bed on Dec. 31st and I woke up on Feb. 1 which I suppose is fine if my dreams were anything close to what reality would have been had I not been asleep for an entire month. In my dreams my job was eliminated 2 weeks before Christmas, I was offered to stay on with the company in the capacity that I knew from the word go was not going to be a great fit for me, I got a sinus infection that turned into pneumonia, I was a grouch, I had a moment of utter public humiliation (a blog post for a different day). Now that I think about it.....phew I sure am glad I slept through all of that! Since I slept the whole month of January, then really to be fair to everyone my new year's resolution is still good....right?
Posted by Jen at 8:26 PM