Sunday, November 30, 2014

To My Brothers: Body Image and ED

WARNING: Some of the stories and images may cause triggers.

I want to dedicate this post to the males out there who struggle with eating disorders and negative perceptions of self image. It's not often that the male struggle with self image is mentioned. I invite you, my brothers, who struggle with body image and eating disorders to share your stories or copy and paste links to your videos and blogs in the comments section of this post.

I saw a couple videos today about the search for beauty (male version) and two young males struggle with eating disorders. I was shocked. I did not realize the quest for the perfect body image was so prevalent in males. What I find most disturbing is how society down plays your struggle. Your pain and suffering is just as important as ours. So why doesn't anyone do more to get the information out there? Society's focus is on the perception of beauty from the woman's point of view. There's little room for discussion about the struggles males have with their own body image. I'm sorry that I too have been guilty of not recognizing your struggle.

More and more young males are suffering from eating disorders and body image issues everyday and starting and younger ages as well.

Do Men and Boys Develope Eating Disorders?

The young lady in the previous video doesn't think that males develop eating disorders because they look muscular in the magazines. She doesn't think they will starve themselves, but rather buff themselves up. Well, here's an example of how some males look so muscular in magazines.

One 13-year-old Boy's Struggle With an Eating Disorder

Male Anorexia Story

I'm so proud of the young men and women who have and are coming forward with their struggles with eating disorders and body image issues. Thank you for sharing. I pray that one day ED will be a thing in the very distant past for all of us.

Post Thanksgiving: How Are You Doing?

Hey everyone. I wanted to touch base with you as we are in the full swing of the holiday season. How are you doing? Do you experience any particular difficulties this time of year? I for one tend to have some measure of depression linked to past holiday practices and urges to night binge. What helps me the most is realizing that I don't have to give into unfortunate or uncomfortable holiday traditions anymore.

There may be some of you who look forward to this time of year as a chance to step away from the mundane and delve into the wonderment of holiday folly and fare. I find a since of joy knowing that there are some who genuinely enjoy this time of year. Then there are those who hide their pain behind the perfectly basted turkey with all the trimmings, possession of super human stamina for the world's biggest shopping day and a meticulously mapped out plan on entombing their homes in miles and miles of twinkling lights. Nothing kills the holiday spirit like a sea of plastic smiles, empty compliments, idol chit chat and muffled sighs.

Are you one who is prone to continuing with traditions that may possibly trigger you just for the sake of looking normal? I used to. I would always give the excuse that I was on a diet so I could get away with eating very little during dinner. Later I'd be given all sorts of neatly packaged goodies in foil covered plates. Little did they know at least 90% of the food would be consumed later that night.

Binging during the holidays was the norm...the biggest binge session of the year. I'd be drunk with anticipation (chuckle), lost in planning the order in which I would eat my newly acquired morsels. End of the year holidays are the one time of year that you can have enormous amounts of food without question.  

Since beginning my quest for wellness I've stopped indulging in massive holiday binges. No more cooking and hording massive amounts of food. I keep things much more simple now. If there are plans to have company I make sure to cook an appropriate amount of food allowing enough to send home with friends and have some left for meals the next day. If we decide not to have company I'll prepare a few of our favorites, enough for two days. I don't bake a lot of deserts. Usually we have a friend make something like a pie or cobbler and I supply the ice cream. For me, deserts are hard to resist, so it's most beneficial to have access to as few sweets as possible.

I don't really care what people think of my changes. It's a matter of knowing my triggers and self preservation.

This year we were planning to have company even thought I didn't feel up to it. The day before Thanksgiving I made a call and opted out of the gathering. I was pleased to know that my intended guests were also not in the mood for holiday cheer. Relief. I prepared a couple Cornish hens, sweet potatoes, greens, and a little mac-n-cheese. That's it! Oh, and fruit for dessert if desired. It was a wonderful meal. Yes I had a late night snack, but did not binge. The next I took the remaining Cornish hen and made gravy and served the left over sides. My good friend also sent over some of the turkey she baked along with a small amount of baked mac-n-cheese.  The leftovers were wonderful. I reframed from preparing more food because I was able to see what we had as enough.

Today there is a small amount of gravy and a few morsels of Cornish hen left. I'm thinking about making a little brown rice and a small pot of green beans and that will be dinner. I feel good about not binging, especially since I've had several binges recently. I'm proud of myself.

Holidays and get-togethers are hard when combating eating disorders. Just take it one step at the time...I day at the time. It's okay if you need to hang out in smaller groups or with just one friend to avoid larger crowds and facing enormous amounts of food. Try not to stay to yourself during these hard times. Now is when support really comes in handy. It will benefit you greatly to spend time with someone who understands what you are going through. You'll need to be able to talk out your feelings with someone, cry, scream, whatever it takes to get the emotion out so you don't take it out on your body.

Huge hugs to all my sisters and brothers who are recovered, recovering or struggling with ED. My heart goes out to you as I keep you in my prayers.

I don't know what tomorrow brings, but I have hope that you know that you are not alone and that we can be here for each other. Take care, my friends. I'll check in again soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pretty Ugly

What is that thing about us that makes us judge ourselves so harshly?
Is there always the pervasive link to abuse or could it be something more costly?
Could it be an internalized need to compare one to another?
After all, we look through countless pages of magazines,
Idolizing airbrushed beauties as we dream...
Lusting for perfection.
Unobtainable beauty, 
Life's worldly possession.

In essence we ARE already that beauty,
 We so desperately long to be.
As seen through the eyes of a stranger
A gentler, kinder, prettier persona of me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bits and Pieces

My eyes are too buggy.
My forehead too big.
My hair is unruly.
It looks like a wig.
My breasts are not perky.
My stomach protrudes.
Thighs shaped like tree trunks.
Accompanied by dimpled glutes. 
My skin heavily scared,
And stretched so tight.
Over the bulky frame of my girth,
Nothing shaped quite right.
My feet are to small,
As if unable to stand at all.
Slightly on tippy toe,
I've learned to lean just so.
A lingering stare into a mirror,
Loathing every bit and part of me.
A living portrait of my own worst enemy.
What ever will become of me.
One day most assuredly,
I will develop a healthier perception of me.
And I will stare into that see,
With a brand new ability to love the entire me.

GUILT and SHAME: How Abuse Distorts Perceptions

WARNING: This post may cause triggers. Sharing about self body image, psychological abuse and sexual abuse.

How many of us can recognize how our pasts effect our present and future? Not being able to see this connection is not as uncommon as you might think. As a matter of fact, it is more common that you could imagine. That is why I will periodically write about past events and explain how those events affect me today.

Eating disorders don't start out of the blue. They develop over time. For every addictive or hurtful behavior there is a root beginning. There is a point where things shift and move towards an unhealthy path. It is time to recognize those points of shifting, work through them and propel ourselves into a healthier direction.

I don't think that I've talked much about my feelings of guilt, shame or disgust. Though I do not feel at fault for what my parents have done to me, I do feel fault and guilty for what I've done to myself. I've also recently discovered that I feel fault and guilt about things my parents blamed me for especially if there was something I did want to do and I am told that something bad came of it...I believed it.


When I was very young, about 6 or 7 we had this lovely dog named Brutus. Funny, I'm just now able to remember his name. He was a large brown boxer. My parents had just recently gotten him. I was a little afraid of him because he was so large, but I cared for him very much and wanted to bond with him. One day after finishing my school work I went out side to play with Brutus. He was lying beside the back porch. I called his name, but there was no response. I called is name again and still no response. Then I began screaming his name over and over again. I ran in the house still screaming and crying. My mom had her back to me. "He's dead...he's dead!" I guess my mom got tired of me screaming. She turned around and glared at me. "It's YOUR fault!", "It's YOUR fault that he's dead!", "YOU never wanted to feed him or clean up after him! I had to do it all!", "He died because YOU didn't want to take care of him!" Eyes stretched wide and completely silenced, I stopped crying. Was it really my fault? Did I kill Brutus?

To this day that moment still haunts me and yes, in a strange kind of way, I still feel guilt for Brutus' death. I feel guilt when I get a little angry with my son and just want him to go to another room and be quiet for awhile. It's not that I would have said anything. Usually it's just a passing thought. But there have been times when he's gotten sick after I had a thought like that and I wondered...was it my fault? Will God take him away from me because I wanted him to be quiet? It is truly unfortunate what I experienced that day so many years ago. And it is even more unfortunate that I am still affected by my mother's words.

Recently there has been another incident when I've felt profound guilt for something I ultimately had no control over. It was when my son had his bout with constipation. Even though his pediatrician said it was common, I still felt as thought I had done something wrong. I could not sleep for carrying the guilt. My guilt turned into anger. How dare my body work properly when my son's body cannot. The guilt was more than I could bare. I hated myself and I began starving myself again. I know this is extreme. I can't help how I felt. I believed bad things happen when you don't do things perfectly and being a less than perfect mother caused my son to get sick. This way of thinking is a product of the abuse that I endured. I realize that. Now I need to figure out how to combat those strong emotional responses to my past. How do I shake this?


My parents were ashamed of me and I was ashamed for embarrassing them especially in public. I could always tell they felt this way. It was how their voices dropped when it came time to introduce me. "And this is my (pause) daughter." Not only did I not behave normally like other kids my age. I wasn't as attractive as my parents. They were picture perfect...on the outside... I felt like an alien, often wondering if they found me under a bush or perhaps someone left me on their doorstep. I would imagine a spaceship flying by and I haphazardly thrown from the ship landed in my parents yard. I can't ever remember feeling as thought I belonged. Oh well, they were stuck with me and I them.

I  about being fat and an eyesore...a disappointment. They would constantly point out all of my flaws and tried earnestly to figure out how to correct them. I lost the ability to see myself as worthy of being loved or worthy of anything. I lost the ability to see myself at all.

I never believe that I deserved how I was treated, but I didn't believe that I deserved to be treated any better either. I wasn't sure what better was anyway.

I still feel the shame for being fat and unattractive. And fat is still my safety net, never to worry about being touched again. Just thinking about it makes me want to scarf down a few oatmeal cream pies as I schlep around the house in old socks and loose clothing camouflaging my girth. It's not working. I tell myself that I dress this way because I want to be comfortable. Lie! I'm hiding...hiding in plain sight. If only I could implode and disappear.

Everyday is a struggle...going through life hoping no one sees me. I hate having to deal with the outside world, my tenants, especially. When I go to the properties, I feel like everyone is staring at me because I'm so fat and disgusting. Shame oozes out of my pores as I encounter each new person. There is silence and  Dear God, please make this go away. I am that same little girl walking down the street with her parents and feeling as though she is a complete outcast and does not belong. Only now I'm not with my parents, I'm with my son. My beautiful son, tall, handsome and well dressed. And here I am...well, I just am.

This reminds me of a book I once purchased for a friend, "When will I Be Good Enough: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers." I should have kept that book for myself. I'm always stuck in between feeling or not feeling good enough to be my son's mom. Almost identical to feeling that I was not good enough to the daughter of my parents.

Are you starting to see the distinct patterns between past and present?

All I've ever wanted was to be loved and accepted. No matter how I look I would never be accepted or loved by my parents, many family members and past so called friends.

Fact: In the past, most of the people in my life were only in my life because they wanted or needed something. I am not mad at them. I only wish that I could have had a healthier relationship with them. I wish they could have seem more value in me as a person.

Now that I have been blessed with both love and acceptance from my son and a few friends, I still struggle with believing that it's real or perhaps I just don't know how to accept unconditional love, because it's not something that I'm familiar with.

I hope to become a healthier slimmer me without the fear. I don't know what it's going to take to get there, but as many of you already know, I am always searching for answers and solutions and I believe I will find those answers and solutions one day.  

A huge thank you to those of you who I've come to know and love. Thank you for your support, love and kindness and thank you most of all for your acceptance.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 17, 2014: In the Trenches

I'm still here... Been thinking about you all and wondering how you are doing. I've been having a very hard time for the past few months. It's been like experiencing one bad omen after another. A reminder of what life was like for me this time last year. I was so hopeful of seeing a better year and desperate for some emotional, mental and physical relief. Instead I was met head-on with challenges that almost knocked me off my feet. My life has been a roller coaster rider ever since. 

How do you deal with people who choose to hate you, not for anything of your own doing, but for things that your parent did? I having to face people who don't like me more frequently than I care to acknowledge. These people don't like me because the did not like my dad. They did not like how he tricked, deceived, manipulated and even stole from them. So now that he's dead I guess they think that I should pay for his wrong doings. I've always lived a simple life, never going outside of my means or comfort. I am well aware of my limitations and have mastered moving within finely balanced parameters. That has all changed and I am in an emotional uproar almost all the time. Even in all of this I've managed to keep a healthy balance in my home, that is until a recent health issue with my son. I've always said I can take anything as long as I know my son is okay. Well, he's was not okay and my world is spiraling out of control.

There are some who will think what I'm about to say is trivial and warrants little to no concern. Of course, I would never have thought such a thing until someone I call friend showed me that she felt this way.

My son started having issues with drooling and clearing his throat a couple months ago. It didn't seem like anything big, but it was not going away. My initial thought what that he could be cutting wisdom teeth and I treated him accordingly, but even that was taking longer than it should. I took him to the dentist to confirm my theory only to find that his wisdom teeth are only budding and not yet ready to come in. The very next day I took him to the pediatrician's office and was told that everything looked fine. We went home, but I was still concerned and my concern was taking a turn for the worse. It was fast approaching massive fear and anxiety. Fear of not knowing what is going on with my son, a child who had so many health issues in the beginning, but has grown into a child that has almost no issues with physical health. So how can it be that all of a sudden things are taking such a dramatic turn. What could be the cause?

Each day that passes causes more and more questions to surface. I called the pediatrician's to request a referral to an ENT specialist (Ears, Nose and Throat) to take a closer look. It would only be a few more days before seeing the specialist. I don't want anything to be wrong with my son and there are so many questions I need answered. In the meantime, I also scheduled my son's yearly well check. During the well check I was asked if my son had been having problems with constipation. CONTIPATION?! How is that possible, he has a short gut. A large portion of my son's gut was removed when he was a week old. Diarrhea would be more of an issue for us. That is why he's on a high fiber diet which helps to regulate everything. All of a sudden now I'm being told that he's constipated and not just constipated, but impacted. I'm at a total loss.

News of my son's constipation was the straw that made my knees buckle. My mind starts to spin out of control looking for answers while I am having to adjust to what is known as a normal childhood ailment. I'm not that familiar with normal childhood ailments when it comes to my son. His health issues have been either life threatening or a simple common cold. Taking my son's health history into consideration, I struggle to understand how constipation could be considered normal for a child who's gut has been so severely compromised. The pediatrician casually tells me that my son is not getting enough roughage. How would he know that? He's never once been invited to dinner. Aside from my son's infancy there has been no talk of his dietary intake. I am so sick of these doctors assuming that there must be a deficit. Not to mention how bad I felt as a parent that my son's doctor does not think that I'm feeding him well. I have you know that my son has a healthier diet than most. Anyway, my son is prescribed a laxative and I am given instruction on how to do a home clean out. Everything went well. I did adjust my son's diet a bit to decrease wheat intake because he may be developing sensitivity to wheat products. It's been about a month since this change and he's doing quite well.

Just as the constipation episode dissipated he began having what appeared to be seizures. I have no idea where this is coming from. We went to the emergency room and everything checked out well. In the next few days we were seeing a neurologist who's not sure if my son was having actual seizures or not. One MRI and two EEGs later we are still unsure. What we did find was that my son's cerebellum is underdeveloped. Well, that explains his difficulty with motor planning.

My son is doing quite well. He has not had another seizure type episode since October. Thank goodness for that! We are scheduled to go back to neurology next February. It will be determined then if more tests will be given.

I guess I don't need to tell you that my good eating habits have gone out the window. Yes, I started starving and binging again. It was really bad in September and did get some better in October. My anxiety level was extremely high also. I'm a little better now. Still struggling to get everything back on track. I'm not starving myself during the day anymore, but I'm having great difficulty with night binging. All I can say is some nights are better than others.

I think I'm going to have to have a long discussion with my eating disorder and tell him a thing or two. Wish me luck...

So sorry that I haven't had the energy or the mindset to be productive for awhile. Miss you guys...It's good to be back.