You Are Not A Monster

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The truth is, recovery is just a place where we can tell what the costume is and what it isn’t.

You’re Not a Monster 

Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays of the year, especially with an almost three year old. We build haunted gingerbread houses, we (I) carve pumpkins, and we go trick-or-treating like a million times. When I was a kid, we got ready all day Halloween afternoon- anticipating the moment it was FINALLY dark enough to be a little witch, or Cinderella, or a pumpkin. Gone are those days. Now, kids get to go trick-or-treat like every weekend for the whole month.

With that said, we typically get H’s costume at the end of September. It came in a week and a half ago: a blue monster onesie- complete with teeth, and horns, and claws. He was walking around, “ROAR! I’m a monster!!!!” At one point, he sat in his tee-pee (bedecked in furry blue) and I couldn’t keep from laughing to myself. “Okay bud, let’s get that monster outfit off!” I thought he might be getting hot or uncomfortable, but he kept admiring his blue feet and claws… “No, I wanna keep it on!”

I ended up chasing him around the house, pulling off paws and claws and horns until, voila, my sweet baby boy was standing in front of me again. The monster in my hands.

One of the most difficult realities of an eating disorder is that it becomes this never ending day of Halloween- A little naggy monster costume that one wakes up in one day, and never takes off. The claws and sharp teeth and horns become safe and comfortable. A suit of armor against everything out there, and a mask that covers everything in here.

Recovery says, “Okay bud, let’s get that monster outfit off,” and the typical response is “No! I wanna keep it on!” While also really, really, really, REALLY wanting to get rid of it. Because doing life in costume can start to get really hard. More so, life in costume can start to feel like the real thing.

“This isn’t pretend. I’m an awful person. I deserve this. I’m really this ugly, horrible person and without the costume, everyone will see what a monster I really am. I’m not wearing a costume, this is who I really am.”

I can’t tell you how many talented, intelligent, gifted women I’ve worked with whose eating disorder convinced them that they were stupid, lazy, ugly, clumsy people who needed to wear a mask in order to get by. I also know that seeing yourself as you are is no easy task when you’ve really been seeing a blue monster with horns and sharp teeth in the mirror. The monster is real, BUT it isn’t you. It’s your eating disorder, and it’s really important to have someone say that to you.

“Hey, yeah you’ve got a little monster hanging out with you. Spoiler alert, it’s your eating disorder, and you’re eating disorder isn’t you.”

Out of fear, or uncertainty, or being lost, or something you had no control over, you found this little monster suit, and tried it on, and it made you feel safe, invincible, powerful, seen (or invisible), loved or hated, in control. It made you feel strong, so you kept it on because without it, you were just…blah.

So what to do?

The truth is, recovery is just a place where we can tell you what the costume is and what it isn’t. “Yeah, the horns aren’t yours, the contagious laugh is. The sharp teeth aren’t yours, the fear of not being enough is. The blue fur, yeah, not you.”

It’s a safe place for you to look at the monster without judgement or hatred. It’s a place for you to sort out your thoughts and the eating disorder’s voice. It’s this place of discovery, connecting dots, and learning how to do life without the mask. But the magical part is, it’s always in your control and your choice when and how you take the costume off. Believe me, we’ll chase after you, and just like I removed my son’s costume, I want to take those fangs and claws from you, but in recovery, that’s what you do. My job is to help you see the monster that you and your food are not, but it’s your job to learn yourself again, and to take off that “monster” you believe you are when you’re ready.

Every bite of food you take. Every negative thing you say about yourself that you reframe. Every gentle word of grace you offer yourself. Every time you act in a way that is in opposition to the “monster” is a healthy act of rebellion against the lies of the eating disorder, and an alignment with your authentic self. Every time you question the eating disorder is a moment you may be finding yourself again.

You won’t believe us in the beginning when we tell you, “You aren’t a monster,” but one day, piece by piece, you’ll start to take that little monster outfit off, mask and all- you’ll hold that sucker in your hand, and you’ll see yourself in the mirror, and you’ll think, “Wow! That’s me!”

You may have hard days where wearing the eating disorder feels safer or more comfortable, but you’ll have hard days where being true to yourself is possible. And, one day, you won’t need or want your eating disorder anymore. If you want to take it off, you’ll take it off- no matter how long it takes you, and we’ll be there every single step of the way. We’ve got a closet full of paws, and claws, and horns that other women have left behind to prove it.

You’re not a monster, you’re just a woman who hasn’t seen herself in a while, but you will.

 Martha Lee Anne RD, ACED Primary Dietitian

 

 

Let Them Eat Candy

“Halloween should not be about replacing caramels with stickers.”

Perspective | Forget switching Halloween treats for a toy. This dietitian says: Let them eat candy.

I absolutely loved Halloween when I was a kid. I grew up in a community where every house had a pumpkin glowing in the window, and kids from tot to teenager donned ghost and witch costumes to collect chocolate bars, chips and candy. It was a night filled with pure joy.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Your Recovery - Your Pace

3 Reasons Why Comparing Your Mental Illness to Others is Damaging - #1 Mental Health Blog - Talkspace

Clinical Psychologist It is human nature to compare yourself to others, whether favorably or unfavorably. Favorable comparisons enhance self-esteem and make people feel better about their life circumstances, while continually comparing yourself negatively to others can have the opposite effect. People compare themselves to others in all arenas of life.

There's a new job title in the UK government

And it’s a job thats long been needed. Minister for Suicide Prevention. 

The UK now has a Minister for Suicide Prevention and it's about time

As of today there's a new job title in the UK government. Minister for Suicide Prevention. And, it's a job title that's long been needed. 4,500 people die by suicide per year in England and suicide is the leading cause of death among men under the age of 45 ( per government figures).

Born Brave

“Don't you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can't be exactly who you are.” - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga visited the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to have a candid discussion about emotional health at the Emotion Revolution Summit, a partnership with her Born This Way Foundation. She spoke frankly about her experiences with celebrity and her struggle with depression:

I invented myself, Lady Gaga—I curated my life to be an expression of my pain. This is how I overcame my depression, is by creating somebody that I felt was stronger than me. But…nothing was able to fix how I was genetically made. I was born this way. No matter how much success you have, no matter how many opportunities, fame, fortune—no matter how many people accept you, to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.

"[This is] why we're here today," Gaga continued in her speech. "We're going to talk about why it's important to accept yourself, why it's important to empower yourself and why it's important that emotional intelligence is taken seriously."

It’s Soooo Worth It

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You're Going to Want to Give Up and Go Back - Don't

Last week my husband and I were in Denver, Colorado and decided to go hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  After researching the different trail options, we finally decided on Bear Lake Trail.  We chose this one because it passes three different scenic lakes along the way, each progressively larger and more beautiful, with Emerald Lake being the main attraction at the end.  The reviews described absolutely amazing scenery but warned that the trail was extremely popular and often crowded.  We knew that a 4-mile hike at an elevation of 10,000 ft would be a challenge, but we decided to take the risk. 

We traveled almost two hours from our hotel to get to the trailhead.  Right as we were arriving, we noticed rainclouds.  By the time we got out of the car and began to hike, it started to sprinkle and, of course, we didn’t have rain jackets.  As we started on the trail, we were surrounded by about a hundred other people with the same goal as us, to make it to Emerald Lake.  However, as it continued to rain, and the winds continued to blow, and the temperature dropped, we noticed more and more people turn around.  Most of them made it to the first lake (about a 0.8 mile hike), took pictures, and then turned around and went home.

We, however, were not satisfied.  We knew there was more.  So with wet hair, cold hands, and rain hitting our face like needles, we continued on.  At that point, there were only two other people on the trail and one of them was hiding under a tree waiting on the rain to pass. We began to get tired, winded, and cold. The hike was almost entirely uphill with long stretches of steps carved in the path. We wondered if we should turn around. 

As we stopped to take a break, a hiker on his way back from Emerald Lake passes us. “How is it?  Is it worth it?” we ask.  “You’ve still got a long way to go, and its mostly uphill, but its soooo worth it,” he said.  We kept going (with several more breaks to catch our breath) and three more people pass us on their way back from Emerald Lake. They all said the same thing.  “it’s not an easy hike, but its soooo worth it.” 

Eventually the rain began to clear and our lungs began to adjust to the altitude.  The hike actually became enjoyable.   We even saw a rainbow in the horizon, beaming out over the mountain like a peace offering rewarding us for our hard work.  A few miles later, we finally arrive at Emerald Lake.  We crash on the rocks, exhausted, beat down, but so full of pride that we had done it.  I wish that I could describe the view as beautifully as I experienced it, but it’s just not possible.  All I can do is tell you that it felt like pure and complete peace. 

When I was lying on the rocks at Emerald Lake, I kept thinking about how our journey that day paralleled the process of recovery.  Lots of people say they want to recover and may even start out on the journey, but when the rain comes, and the wind starts blowing, they are tempted to turn back.  They become satisfied with the first sign of progress.  “At least I stopped this behavior” or “At least I’m not doing that thing anymore,” they say.  They hang out at the first lake and they either stay there for a while or they turn around and go back, not realizing that there’s so much more to the journey and so much more beauty to behold.  Sometimes in the thick of the storm it’s hard to trust someone who says, “keep going, its sooo worth it,” but when you take the risk, you open yourself to the possibility that you will arrive at a more peaceful place.  Who nows,you may even get to be the messenger along the path that gets to encourage the next person that, “the journey is hard, but its sooo worth it.”

— Emily Burke

ACED Nurse Practitioner

We're All Part Of The Story

Your Story Is Just Beginning

We truly understand the importance of “every story matters.” Each of us has a story to tell. Recently, staff members from ACED went together to get the semicolon tattoo out of respect for our own stories and the brave stories belonging to each incredible soul we bear witness to every day. Our commitment to and passion for the work we do runs deep. Your story matters.

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