It’s Friday! In case you are just tuning in, Friday’s around here are all about anxiety relief. Today’s post is for EVERYONE. Those struggling with extreme anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders, everyone mentally ill (not as bad as it sounds.) In today’s post, I am discussing YOUR PART in the journey to peace.
If you have been reading this blog any length of time you know that my war cry is to GET HELP. You can click on the Anxious? tab above and probably any post you choose will be urging you to get medical help for your mental illness.
But it is crucial that you know that you have A LOT of work to do on your end. You can’t just go in for an hour appointment once a week or so and expect to get better. A therapist is crucial but their job is to educate and guide you in your journey. Do not underestimate the importance of this. Knowledge really is power and we are not meant to go it alone. I thank the Lord so much for doctors, therapists, and medication. They are truly blessings to all of us.
But here are three things that you must do to make sure that getting help actually helps.
How to Make Sure Getting Help…Helps
Want to Get Better
I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, and OCD for close twenty years. Geez, when I type it all out like that I was quite the mess. Haha! In those twenty years, I saw five different therapists. One when I was fifteen. One when I was eighteen. One when I was twenty-two. Then two in my thirties. I tried one but then switched to another that was a better fit for me.
So why did most of those bouts of therapy end up unsuccessful? Not because of the therapist. Because of me! It wasn’t until my thirties that I finally wanted to get better. I know that is hurtful to some of you because it was hurtful to me when I heard it back then. But it was true nonetheless. I had so many fears of what would happen when I let go of my disorders. I had no idea what was on the other side. Until you get to the point that you are so sick and tired of living the way that you have been and decide that you will take whatever is next no matter what it is, you don’t want to get better.
Mother’s sending your daughter’s to therapy because you are terrified you will lose them, know that it isn’t a waste of time and money. Many of the things they hear will stick and be applied later on. But do not be discouraged if the therapy is not effective at this time. Because right now, you are the one that wants her better. Don’t give up. Just keep praying that you will both have the same desires soon.
This is crucial. You must tell the therapist what is going in order for them to be able to help you. I think of the times that I went in for a session when I was younger. The therapist would ask “How are you?”, I would say “fine” even though obviously I wasn’t or else I wouldn’t be there. I guess I just expected her to draw my problem out of my head. That’s pretty ridiculous, right? We can’t expect them to help us with things that they don’t even know we are struggling with!
Many times the reason it is so difficult to tell them everything that is going on is because we are embarrassed. When it comes to mental illnesses, things get WEIRD. Most of us experience a lot of shame and are embarrassed to share. Please, let me put your mind at ease. You are not alone my friend. Even if your therapist hasn’t heard your particular weirdism (my friend Sarah’s term), they either have heard something similar or will in the not so distant future. But most likely that have heard your issues before. Really. I need to make a post of a bunch of the weird things that my brain sent my way throughout those twenty years. I’m sure you would at least find it highly entertaining if it didn’t make you feel better about opening up in your sessions. Actually, I just shared one of my weirdisms the other day in this post! Check it out! I was obsessed with the apocalypse. 🙂
Do What They Say
Every therapist I saw gave me action steps to do until the next time I came to see them. Until my thirties, I did not give priority to them and therefore it wasn’t until my thirties that the therapy helped. DO THESE. We are all busy. We have many commitments. In my last post, I made a point to stress what we should actually be committing to. This is your wellbeing. DO THE ACTION STEPS.
I hope you all are well but if you aren’t, you are definitely not alone. There is help to be found and hope to be had. Please do not hesitate to ask me to pray for your journey. I would love to and promise I will!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
When I was still in bondage, I used to read this verse and think to myself, “Much easier said than done!”
But it isn’t. Jesus is the one who made this statement. He is the one who said not to worry about what you eat or drink or about your body. So that should be the end of discussion right?
But that was thousands of years ago. Food is different now. Our food is genetically modified. We are surrounded by sugar. We have fast food restaurants on every corner. We have to worry now!
If you believe in Christ, you know that He is God. That day that He spoke these words He knew that He would soon die on the cross for all of our sins. He knew that in forty years the temple would be destroyed and the new dwelling of God would be in all of the hearts of those who love Him. He knew every single event that would occur in the two thousand years after His resurrection and He knew every single person who would walk the earth. He knew you and He knew me. If he knew all of this, don’t think He knew what the food situation would be for Americans in 2018? Of course, he did!
So why didn’t Jesus say, “Do not worry about your life, what you eat or drink: or about your body right now. That is for the future generations to worry about.”?
He didn’t say that because we are NOT to worry about these things! At all! NO WORRYING.
So how do we do this? We have to know the truth in a world saturated in lies. Here are five steps.
#1 You Do Not Have Worry About What You Eat Or What You Drink Or About Your Body.
I am starting with this again because we do not believe it but we must believe it. The reason that this statement is really hard for us to believe is that we are constantly being bombarded by media telling us to worry about our food and our body. When we are told something by someone on a platform, we believe it to the point that we feel it. For years, I believed that there were “good foods” and “bad foods”. As long as I ate the “good foods” I actually felt really good. But when I ate the “bad foods” I felt terrible! I would literally feel fatter after I ate them! But I wasn’t fatter. I thought I was. I felt that I was. I believed that I was. But I wasn’t. It isn’t even possible for you to gain weight immediately after eating something. It was all in my head.
This is the same thing as when I was going through terrible postpartum anxiety. I would watch the news, see all the terrible things going on in the world, and then end up afraid to leave my house! But guess what happened when I would finally go to the grocery store? Nothing.
Test this, try a bite of something “bad”. What did it do? It didn’t do anything bad to you but you may feel guilt or anxiety.
Our feelings affecting out believes brings me to my second thought…
#2 Feelings Lie All The Time
Feelings feelings feelings!!!
We live in such a feelings driven society it is ridiculous. We have all got to wake up and stop it. Really. Feelings are not facts. Do not be quick to believe them. Just because you have a feeling about something does mean that is what you need to follow. I followed my feelings for years and look where they got me.
I felt fat when I ate too much so I threw up my food every day.
I felt good when I felt thin so I smoked cigarettes instead of eating.
I felt like my home environment and school life was too out of control to recover, so I dropped out, moved out and ended up in MANY bad places. Maybe I will tell you about them one day…when my parents are dead. Hopefully a LONG time from now.
I felt good when I received attention from men so I dressed provocatively and exhibited a flirtatious personality. Once again…more on this when my parents are not reading. Haha!
I felt good when I received praise for being in shape and beautiful so I made sure to keep those things at ALL costs.
So reading these, it is blatantly obvious that they are completely ridiculous thought processes. But friends, I am sharing these thoughts that I have had with you because I know that there are many of you out there still thinking these things or believing other lies similar.
They are lies. And our pride is feeding them.
Friend, pray to God to open your eyes. To expose these lies in your heart and show you the truth!
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8: 31-32
Once you are truly free, you will NEVER want to go back to bondage.
#3 Realize What True Freedom Is.
In my bondage, I had all these food rules and exercise rules, rules rules RULES! I was actually afraid of food! I had even come to a point where I wasn’t binging and purging anymore so because life was better than it was, I thought that was freedom! It wasn’t.
When our brains sense that we are depriving ourselves, it goes into what I call “give me” mode. It’s just holding out for that day that you can forget the rules for a while and eat whatever you want without measuring without worrying and just enjoy. But if you are still in bondage, this is never enjoyable because your brain has been waiting for you to let your guard down is saying “Eat everything! We don’t know when we will do this again!” So the all-encompassing binge urge sends you heading repeatedly to the pantry, stopping at multiple drive-thrus, and literally pushing food into your mouth even though you are FAR from hungry.
What to do: You must drop ALL food rules. You must drop ALL fear of food. You must NOT worry!
This sounds silly, right? To worry about food and our bodies. But we do it all the time? When is the last time that you had a dessert or “bad food” and didn’t feel the least bit of guilt?
Try this, choose something you really enjoy. Ice cream, cookie, brownie, pizza, whatever. Get it, sit with it. Forget everything that you have heard about sugar killing us, gluten tearing apart our insides, healthy treats, everything. Forget it all. And just eat it in the same amount that you would a “good food” and see what happens. You may feel guilty but remember that is just a feeling. There is nothing to feel guilty about and I bet nothing will bad will happen to you either. Enjoy!
#4 Know the Hard Truth That It Is Only Your Pride that Is Fueling These Actions.
Friends, I am telling you this out of love and experience so please receive this with love.
We are not killing ourselves in the gym and in the kitchen for the Lord, or for our husbands, or our children, or anyone or anything else that we are telling ourselves we are.
We are killing ourselves for US.
We are striving for unattainable bodies, we are making our diets and exercise our identities, we are pushing ourselves to the limit in all the wrong things! We don’t just strive to be healthy and able, we strive to be ripped and shredded and aesthetically pleasing.
All for our own glory.
This may not seem true but it is. Look at the truth and see the lies we tell ourselves.
Does the Lord want me to be not just healthy and able but skinny, ripped, and aesthetically pleasing to the world?
No. He says this…
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
Does my husband need me to be skinny or super fit?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, Ephesians 5: 25-26
Do we need to be in spectacular shape for our kids? We need to be a good example for them right?
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? We must open our eyes!
#5 Live In Peace.
Easy right? Haha. But I’m telling you, once you are free from your bondage and have tasted true peace and joy you will NEVER want to return to your former way of life.
So what do you do?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mark 7:7
Ask God to save you from your sin. Pray that He opens your eyes to the truth and release you from bondage. Drop your pride and live in the peaceful pasture of the Lord.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:2-3
This may take some time. But while you wait, continue to seek the Lord and I promise you will be different. Know that there is a reason it is taking a while.
Hear me, the Lord DOES want us to be healthy and able to do the good works that He has created for us to do. But many of us treat our bodies as OUR temple, not the temple of the Holy Spirit. Be honest with yourself and ask God to change your heart and mind.
“I keep making the same mistake. I’m not sure I will ever be able to change.”
-My sweet client
When I heard this, I knew the feeling she was experiencing. I remember being her exact age waking up from sleeping an entire 24 hours straight. I was too ashamed and overwhelmed by my predicament to face life back then. People seem understand chemical dependency in the form of alcoholism and drug abuse, but they do not understand that anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are chemical dependencies too. In fact, not only are they a self medicating that need to be addressed, dealt with, and recovered from, but unlike drug abuse and alcoholism those of us with eating disorders cannot just hang up our drug and never surround ourselves with it again (hear me, I am by no means minimizing drug and alcohol abuse). We have to eat to live! And to make matters worse, not only do we have to use our drug of choice for survival, people make light of our plight by shoving it in our face as well. Since they have not experienced the complete overpowering urge to binge sometimes immediately followed by purging, or the sheer and utter terror of taking one bite of an “off limits food”, they think nothing of the the phrase “Oh just a little won’t hurt.” or “Oh just this once.” Or even the damage that is caused in pushing someone to eat the food they have made because they find it rude when someone doesn’t eat what they have put forth the effort to make. They do not understand that what they are doing by pushing food on someone with an eating disorder is like offering heroin to an addict or a beer to an alcoholic. I’m sure some of you will read that and think that it can’t possibly be like that. That’s ok. I hope you never have to know what it’s like.
When I heard her statement, I felt the sorrow that she felt. But I felt great joy at the same time! While I know that feeling of inflicting your own utter chaos on yourself. The shame and humiliation of not only having the eating disorder, but the shame and humiliation that is often times feeding the eating disorder. The absolute belief that you will never be able to get a handle on it and live life like a normal person. That you may just be destined to die from it. Unless you have been through it, you have no idea the feeling of the binge urge. It is far beyond will power or “busying yourself” so that you don’t give in. No, the urge will win every time. The key is to get rid of the urge which is coming from a place of great inner pain.
So while I know her great pain, I have great joy in the fact that although she believes in her mind is defeated, she is not! There is in fact another side to the fence!
If you are struggling, it is very important for you to know that there is another side to the fence. There is. Even if you are so far from even seeing the fence! Obviously, it’s a long long road to recovery. But if you are in need of something to help you right now, here are these four steps to get you started while you are finding someone to help you on your road to recovery.
Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7) Pray for God to get you through this.
Find out how to eat healthy and keep a healthy diet. A poor diet makes the binge urges stronger and keeps them coming more frequently.
Exercise. Exercise not only works as an antidepressant but it also helps to regulate hunger making it easier to keep a healthy diet.
Wait. Be patient because it’s a long road. Make the effort everyday and do not give up. Keep fighting.
And remember that one day, when you are past it, you will be able to walk with someone through their journey to recovery.
*Warning: This blog post is highly caffeinated. I will ramble. I have gotten into the habit of staying up until midnight-1am so I got up REALLY early this morning to try to get myself to bed a little earlier. I apologize in advance for all spelling and punctuation errors.
Since I can’t really focus anymore today on learning new things, what better time to blog about things I already know? I’ve been blogging along for three years now. Dear readers, thank you so much for reading. I love writing, but it sure is nice to know there is someone out there that I am writing to. Today I am writing to you a little more about my eating disorder and recovery. I unexpectedly had a huge response to my post where I chose an Eating Disorder Recovery Anniversary Date and realized that there are a lot of you out there struggling that need to know how I managed to make it through my day back then (which I didn’t always), and how I made it to where I am today. There is so much to tell and it’s about time I started telling. It was such a long tumultuous road to recovery and even when I was doing much better with it all, I was still having really strong binge urges. I couldn’t control them! As hard as I would try, I could never get my appetite under control. I had to figure it out. This took years. Often times, I didn’t know what was the eating disorder and what was just eating too much. But I have learned a ton! Not everything. But a ton! And I am going to share some of this with you today. If you are struggling with bulimia or binge eating, here are some things that helped me to manage the behavior until I FINALLY got to the other side of the fence!
*Note-I am not a doctor of any kind! I struggled with anorexia and then bulimia for 17 years and I am sharing with you things that helped me in my journey and recovery.
When I was in therapy for my eating disorders, my therapist really tried to get me to be comfortable with having junk food. The reason that she was trying to get me to include some junk into my diet was so that I could get rid of this “good food/bad food” mentality. Well, I came to be okay with having junk every now and then but I STILL couldn’t control myself with it. If I had an Orea, I ate the pound of Oreos. My therapist told me that it was because I still thought of sweets as “off limits” and so when I did finally have then, I would eat as much as I possibly could because I didn’t know when I would have it again. Well in the 17 years, I had a few years where I just gave up, swung to the other end of the weight spectrum and had junk all the time. So a year or so of consistently including junk food into my diet……..still couldn’t control myself. I figured I was just doomed with food. But then I learned that when you deprive your body of nutrients for a long period of time, it starts to get angry. See, our body/brain is constantly trying to rescue us from ourselves. And it remembers that the junk has lots of calories. Calories that can be used to save you from starvation! If you have ever eaten a donut or a cookie in your life, then developed an eating disorder where you are starving your body, when you do finally take a bite of a cookie or some other kind of junk food there is a hormonal response that happens that jogs your bodies memory that the cookie has lots of calories and in turn tells you to eat it…….ALL. Eat as much as you possibly can. This is the uncontrollable binge that is experienced.
Since I struggled with eating disorders for a very long time, it is well worth it for me to stick to healthy whole foods. I even quit sugar last October and this has been even more helpful.
Ah, this blog is probably starting to make more sense. I don’t only do this stuff for the fun of it. It keeps my life in check! Exercise is so much more than burning calories in the moment. Isn’t it crazy how when you exercise you aren’t as hungry even though you actually burned more calories in your day? Exercise regulates your appetite and is also a fantastic antidepressant! Exercise was and is a crucial part of my recovery.
I used to keep fat out of my diet at all costs because it was too caloric. Then I tried the low carb/high fat diet and ate TONS of fat. When I ate low fat, I was thin and looked healthy but I felt like I was going to die all the time haha. I was always and anxious, I couldn’t catch my breath, and my teeth and gums were terrible! Then I tried the low carb/high fat diet and threw calorie watching out the window. I experienced such a great turnaround in my health! My previously loose teeth were no longer loose and I was as calm as a cucumber. I learned the reason for this was because our cells are made mostly of fat! We NEED fat to be healthy! Now I don’t eat quite as much fat.. I do watch my calories but I make sure that I include lots of good fats into my diet and I don’t stress if I go over a bit. I know the calories from whole food are different than the calories in junk. You will read otherwise, but in my experience with food and eating (and I have lots) the calories are very different between the two.
Examples of healthy fats are egg yolks, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados. My favorites are eggs and cashews. 🙂
I think in most recovery programs it is recommended to depend on a power greater than yourself. It’s because we have gotten ourselves in over our heads and we need something bigger than ourselves to get us out of it. During my 17 year struggle, I learned ways to manage my disorder to where I could go about my daily life. But there did finally come a point where I was completely healed and I know that was God that did that. I am very thankful to Him for changing my mind and my heart.
So just pray to God and then wait. PS- it may be a while.
Practice Making the Right Choice
Obviously I am not perfect, but when I make decisions now I think about what will happen afterward. I have an infant, If I do not stay on top of my health, I am EXHAUSTED. So I eat healthy, I workout, and I try (I said try) to get enough sleep so that I can be mentally and physically present for my two little pumpkin heads. Whether you have had an eating disorder or not, this is how we need to think in life. But those of us struggling in an eating disorder are in desperate need of rising above the chaos that has become our daily lives. This is achieved through making one good decision at a time. There is so much power in accomplishment. I always talk about my to-do list on here. I have been making them for years and they are such a great tool for gaining confidence in yourself! That being said, I know that all is in God’s hands but we have to be able to trust ourselves that when we say we are going to do something, we are actually going to do it. Now I make sure to accomplish at least one thing of meaning to me daily even if it is small. Maybe try to think of something you can set out to accomplish tomorrow. You will actually be accomplishing more than just the task!
So those are a few of the things that helped me in being able to get through the day when I was in the struggle, going through recovery, and even now. I will try to do another post with more of my experience and things that helped me soon. For now I hope these can help some of you out there. If you are struggling now and need someone to pray for you just let me know in the comments or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise I will.