mental health

8 years

“But like, what is the importance of being out of treatment for 8 years if you relapsed once and still struggle with issues from time to time?”

FIRST: shut the fuck up

SECOND: let me explain

My last day in treatment was October 24th, 2011.

I had given up my post-high school summer, going out of state to college, going IN STATE to college, friendships, relationships & my freedom for just over 4 months straight to fight the addictions that had outrun me.

And it wasn’t my first time in treatment, but it WAS my last time.

So I’m not celebrating the fact that I never have difficult days; that’s not realistic.

I celebrate handling my shit.

I celebrate being able to appreciate my body, even when I don’t necessarily like it.

I celebrate the ability to refrain from scarring my body when I feel pain; being able to go hang out with my sister instead of going to the gym; being able to eat something that isn’t watermelon.

I celebrate the acknowledgement that pills with someone else’s name on them are not for me (hahaha funny).

I celebrate the friendships I lost when I got out of treatment that proved they weren’t real to begin with; the connections I’ve made with girls when I return to the center to speak.

I celebrate the life that I’ve built:

  • graduating college
  • buying a car
  • moving into a house
  • becoming a Personal Trainer and being able to educate others before they get too deep into misinformation like I did that they can’t dig their way out

I celebrate because having something to celebrate takes away the pain from knowing addiction stole over 6 years of my life, and I get to live just wildly enough to make up for it.

So there you have it; I celebrate because I like to.

Because when I first went in, it wasn’t certain I would live to see my way out.

It wasn’t certain that full recovery was an option for me, or that I was even worth trying.

And as I type this while all snuggled up in my own bed with oodles of blankets, music playing and my puppy at the end of the bed all tucked in, I’m reminded of the windowless bright orange-walled room that I spent approximately 8 hours a day in uncovering the deep shit, and then the problems that ran even deeper.

I’m reminded of the hours I spent making friendship bracelets so I would have something to do with my hands, and taking 2 hours to eat chicken nuggets while everyone else got to go outside.

I’m reminded of the days we spent sitting in silence after a meal because no one wanted to be the first to speak, and picking EKG stickies off me for weeks on end because by the time you got it all off, it as time for another one.

I’m reminded of not being able to use the restroom alone (true story).

I’m reminded of family night, when my parents would come and eat with us, and my 18th birthday, when everyone was mad at me because I was the reason our dessert that day was cupcakes.

They make you talk about really hard shit when you’re there – why you hate your body, and then why you ACTUALLY hate your body (one is because you think you’re ugly and the other is because you went through trauma as a child and can’t stand anyone touching you, let alone looking at you).

I’m reminded of my friends calling me from UMD to see if I was all moved in, while I was still in that same room, wondering why this was my life.

And I am reminded of my final check-up before I was discharged, saying goodbye to everyone (no hugs, I hate hugging) and driving away, unable to comprehend that I was actually one of the ones that made it.

So there you have it; I celebrate because I like to.

I remember celebrating my first year.

And tomorrow, I get to celebrate 8 of them.

mental health

Avoiding Temptation

It’s everywhere you look.

Magazine articles, billboards, social media.

Everyone wants to give you tips for “avoiding temptation” and not feeling like a “terrible human”, which is obviously caused by eating food with calories.

Here’s what happens when you take the advice from the aforementioned about resisting temptation:

  1. You walk by the ice cream at the grocery store, stare at it with puppy dog eyes, and leave; if you buy it & it’s in your house, you will eat it all and spontaneously explode in a fury of weakness.
  2. You crave ice cream at 7:01 pm, which is already setting yourself up for failure (remember, eating after 7 will cause immediate fat gain).
  3. You decide to “give in” and eat a rice cake because it’s the same consistency, flavor & deliciousness as ice cream.
  4. You eat another rice cake because that first one didn’t QUITE do it for you.
  5. You eat one more rice cake but this time, you add peanut butter because you didn’t really get the sweetness you were looking for from the first two.
  6. You’re still craving ice cream so you “treat yourself” to a slice of “birthday cake” gum because #goals.
  7. You are still tempted so you pace back and forth in the kitchen, opening and closing the fridge, chewing your gum faster & faster.
  8. You jump in your car, drive to Target, run inside, grab the ice cream you wanted to begin with, pay for it, hop in your car, and begin eating it on the ride home (no spoon? no problem!)
  9. You get home & finish eating the entire pint in your car because the magazines and celebrities LIED TO YOU AND RESISTING TEMPTATION WAS NOT THE ANSWER.
  10. You feel sick & ashamed for thinking you were being strong when in reality, if you would have just had the ice cream when you felt like it, you would have eaten what you wanted, felt satisfied, and gone about your day.
**This is not necessarily an exact scenario. Also eating after 7 does not make you automatically gain fat.

What is my one tip for avoiding temptation?

Giving in.

Do you want a cookie? Eat a cookie.

Do you want a slice of cheesecake? Eat a slice of cheesecake.

Do you want a drink with CALORIES in it?

You get yourself a drink with calories in it girl and you drink the s*** out of it!

No, not all food was made with the goal to be nutritious & no, our body does not NEED it to sustain itself.

HOW. EV. ER.

Food is fuel, but it’s also just food.

Maybe a donut won’t sustain/nourish you the way a breakfast of eggs & toast will, but it will get the job done if you go that route for one day.

Have you ever considered the option that maybe you’re craving ice cream because you want ice cream & like the taste, not that you’re falling behind on nutrients that could instead be satisfied with broccoli?

You mean maybe all of the magazines & Kardashians of the world AREN’T correct about their skinny pops & detox teas??

Fascinating.

ihvuuy

mental health

Intuitive Eating Scam

I posted on Instagram yesterday about not paying people to teach you how to eat intuitively and I gotta say, I woke up today with a lot more feelings about that. that I would like to share so get excited.

To provide you a back story, I intuitively ate before it was cool.

How?

Intuitive eating is just REGULAR EATING.

And when I was 6 and first started to have an awkward relationship with food until I entered treatment for the final time at age 17, I forgot how to eat intuitively.

You know where IIII went to learn how to eat intuitively?

Friggen rehab, bro.

That’s where you go to learn to eat intuitively.

You don’t pay an Influencer (I thank the Lord every day that that is not yet a recognized dictionary word) on Instagram or take a 6-week “restart your metabolism” course.

Your metabolism is fine – it’s not in starvation mode.

In fact, it’s just incredibly efficient (when you eat less, you metabolism down regulates to more efficiently metabolize your food & store energy for later – it’s not STARVATION MODE so just stop it stop it right now).

Anyway, intuitive eating.

When I got out of treatment, I intuitively ate the s*** out of my food.

I listed to my body, I ate smoothies when I wanted and salads when I wanted (much more rare….) it was great.

THEN I started counting macros.

THEN I paid a coach to tell me what to eat every day

THEN I forgot how to eat intuitively again.

THEN I paid an Influencer to teach me.

NO – NO I DID NOT DO NOT PAY AN INFLUENCER TO TEACH YOU HOW TO EAT INTUITIVELY.

Think about this – diet culture has literally run out of ways to take money from people that they are now offering classes on how to UNdiet (i.e. “intuitive eating”).

It’s just like how Disney ran out of movie ideas so they’re just remaking everything they’ve already done but selling it differently.

Unless you are in contact with a Registered Dietitian or otherwise licensed professional specializing in disordered eating, do NOT give up your precious dollar bills (or hundreds, from the looks of it).

When we are young, we eat when we’re hungry, stop when we’re full.

It’s just called eating.

And no, calling it “Intuitive Eating” is not going to suddenly make it more powerful.

Get off your diet horse, stop charging people money to get them off the diet YOU put them on, and go intuitively eat a donut.

A super large one.

With sprinkles.

And maple glaze.

mental health

Sven

No one tells you what it means to adopt a sick puppy.

No one tells you what it means to adopt a sick puppy that you didn’t know was sick.

No one tells you how it feels to get 24 hours with the puppy, and have him begin to show symptoms of illness.

They don’t tell you that the “free” vet visit just gets you through the door.

They don’t tell you that your new dog will need chest x-rays, a respiratory panel and, four days later, hospitalization.

There’s no way to prepare you for the isolation, constant monitoring, and emotional exhaustion that will follow that first vet visit.

There’s no way to prepare for a new puppy that refuses to eat his food, drink his water or, at really rough times, even lift his head.

You can install a nanny cam, take days off work, syringe liquid into his system, take him outside and cry in front of him, begging him to get better – it’s not always going to work.

Everyone talks about adopting a puppy.

They are fluffy and cute and hyper, and you better have enough treats in your pocket to teach them the bell door trick for when they need to go outside.

My puppy didn’t get to learn the bell door trick.

My puppy didn’t even get to learn how to go up the stairs (back legs are confusing to furry friends I guess; I don’t know, I don’t have any)

My puppy didn’t get to chase the squirrels or wrestle with his big brother.

He didn’t get to take my food from my plate when I wasn’t paying attention.

He didn’t get to go see the drainage pond that I always incorrectly refer to as a lake.

He didn’t get to beg to go outside just so he could beg to come back in.

He didn’t get to steal my shoes or try to jump onto our bed but miss & land on his back like a turtle.

But my puppy did get to experience the love of a family.

My puppy got endless hours of snuggles.

My puppy got to have a sleepover with me, and go outside in the middle of the night just for fun.

My puppy got to bark at the neighbor and eat fancy hamburger.

My puppy got to lay on the couch and watch me do laundry.

My puppy got to spend the day with his new dad, and snuggle with his stuffed sloth.

He got to live a full life in 5 short days.

He was everything we wanted in a puppy up until the very last moment.

And to wherever he is headed next, I’m sure it’s full of health and treats and water that doesn’t remind him of Pedialyte.

 

 

mental health

How to Shop & Not Hate Yourself

If you have never had any self-esteem issues while shopping for clothes,

you’re lying.

I never tried on clothes; I hated seeing the way garments would struggle to fit over my frame, or how they would hug all the wrong curves (update: there are no wrong curves; let it go). As I got further and further into recovery, and deeper into my shopping, addiction, I was able to come up with 5 ways to make shopping a less-destructive hobby, including a way to make less trips back to the store when something didn’t fit in the comfort of your living room #science

1 – Racks on Racks

I can’t take credit for this one – my sister taught me. Instead of mulling over whether or not something would look good on you, just take it. I had an idea in mind of what kind of wedding dress I would look good in and let me tell you, the one I landed on looked NOTHING like what I thought – if even the smallest part of you thinks something is cute, grab it (or hand it to your shopping buddy to hold for you).

2 – Look vs. Feel

As I mentioned above, it can be completely detrimental to watch yourself try on an item that you KNOW isn’t going to fit the second you get it over your head. Instead, face AWAY from the mirror until you get dressed. Get the garment on, move around and see how it FEELS on you because TRUST ME, if it doesn’t feel good, nothing else matters. If it feels good, turn around and see how it looks; if it doesn’t feel good, take it off and avoid the lowering of your self-esteem when it is not necessary (it’s like “more fish in the sea” but instead of men, it’s blouses).

3 – Not every shopping trip has to be some massive excursion

There is not one trip to the mall that I do not see a gaggle of high school girls surrounding their leader to gush about how something looks on her (whether or not it actually does look okay). Not every shopping trip has to be some great event – it’s okay to go shopping alone. I like to head out to the mall by myself, take my time, really focus on what I believe looks and feels good on me, and purchase as many Starbucks as I want without someone judging me.

Another option is to go with someone that you KNOW will be honest with you (I have a Sami, a Kelsey, a mama and a Talia for that).

4 – Don’t believe the (mirror) hype

Ah yes, the dressing room mirrors; angled ever so perfectly to make you look incredibly tall and thin in every piece of clothing you throw on your body. This is another reason trying things on BEFORE looking in the mirror is helpful. Have you ever purchased something that you loved in the store, and gotten home to suddenly realize you should not be allowed to make your own decisions? IT’S THE MIRRORS PEOPLE! Don’t let them get to you, and know that you are PERFECT the way you are, tall and thin or short and whatever your body type may be. (looking at you Abercrombie, GTFO)

5 – Size is just a number (literally)

I am a HUGE bargain hunter – I would rather take $100 and go to Marshall’s or Clothes Mentor than head to a department store to purchase one sweater. That being said, it’s important to know that all brands and styles are made differently. I walked into JCPenney and purchased three new pairs of pants – a 4, a 6 and an 8. Literally all the same brand, just different styles; they all fit. I also learned that dark jeans fit tighter than light jeans when you first try them on (which has since lead Sami and I to dub ourselves a size “Shmedium” at Maurices). I KNOW that it’s easier said than done but I PROMISE, size really is just a number (and if you need something even more ridiculous, I also have jeans in a size 26, 27 AND 28. These jeans are supposed to literally be the size of your waist in inches, and yet even THOSE jeans differ!!!!)

Now that you know all of the secrets of the way diet culture has spread into our precious shopping time, I hope that you will remember at least ONE of the above tips next time you go shopping. And if none of them work, there’s always Amazon.

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mental health

25 things I learned before turning 25

I wanted to have this posted PRIOR to me turning 25 however, that just didn’t occur.

Below are 25 things I have learned during this first quarter of my life; read through and share your thoughts are additional things you have learned in the comments section!

Liquid calories aren’t going to derail your health

I always used to think “I’m not losing weight because I put creamer in my coffee”. That’s not a thing. Despite articles online labeled “Why Your Coffee is Making You Fat” and “How to Lose 10 Pounds Just By Giving Up Coffee”, the fact of the matter is that your coffee probably has very little to do with your overall health (of course there are always exceptions). Having a Cold Foam Cold Brew a couple of times a week is not going to immediately put you in a category of dangerous health; Komboucha has calories and no one writes articles about it being bad for you. Being MINDFUL of the coffee you drink is more beneficial than just assuming all coffee drinks are bad.

Go for quality over quantity for friendships

I have two friends from high school that I still hang out with (not that I had a TON of friends in high school as it was but still) and I’m not out to add to that group necessarily. You don’t need to be the person who has so many commitments they don’t have time to put in the work to really engage in and grow those friendships; be the one that has a handful of incredible friendships, and give those your utmost attention.

Girl friendships are important

I have always had insane social anxiety, especially around girls my age however, as I have grown, I have noticed that is has become increasingly important to have strong female friendships. I consider every single bridesmaid from my wedding someone I can count on, and someone that means the world to me. Instead of running from female friendships because I was uncomfortable, I worked at the ones I had.. Besides, what guy is going to watch Grey’s Anatomy with you or go on day-long shopping sprees while you complain about something JUST to complain??

Relationships take work

I’m not talking about having to put so much effort into getting along with someone that you EXHAUST yourself; I’m talking about putting in the effort to spend quality time together and go on adventures with just you and your significant other – and no, sitting in two separate rooms watching two different television shows doesn’t count, even though you are both technically “home” together. Sometimes you cancel plans to drive them to the airport, and sometimes they take a PTO day just to reconnect – you get out of a relationship what you are willing to put into it.

Secrets are brutal

It’s a lot less taxing to share too much than to not share a thing. If you are struggling, you won’t always get by on the notion that you can fix things yourself – tell someone when you are having a rough time, no matter how silly it may sound in your head. “Hey, I want to take some pills right now” – that doesn’t make you sound crazy, it makes you sound like someone who knows enough to reach out and seek assistance to keep them from falling back down the rabbit hole.

Macros aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be

I’m not saying “don’t track your macros”, I’m saying that you need to do what works for you. If tracking your macros helps you stay healthy and keeps you from going into a mental tailspin, do it. However, I’m here to say that if an app tells you that you need 205 carbs a day and 54 fat, having 210 carbs and only getting in 45 fat is not going to immediately derail your entire life. There is a time and a place for counting macros, and it’s not always going to be in recovery.

Food is not going to hurt you

Unless you have a clinically diagnosed severe issue with gluten, it’s not going to hurt you. Going dairy free is not some magical diet hack. And opting for “calorie-free” options are NOT going to be as great for your digestion as you may be lead to believe. That’s it.

Victories feel better when you work for them

I bought my very first car all on my own late last year and let me tell you, it felt GREAT. My bank account probably didn’t feel the same at first, but knowing that I put in the work and saved money and made smart decisions to get to that position and was ABLE to make such a purchase all on my own felt great – relying on your parents for every little thing as you get older isn’t going to teach you much, nor is a new car going to feel as great if someone else is buying it for you. (And I mean new to YOU, not necessarily BRAND new)

You don’t need to drink just because everyone else is

If you want to go out to a bar with friends and they want to drink, great. Don’t let anyone pressure you into drinking or doing things that you personally don’t feel adds any value to your life. Some people like to go out and drink, some people don’t. It’s that simple, and you don’t owe it to anyone to drink just so they don’t have to drink alone – that’s their problem, not your’s.

Experience will teach you more than a classroom will

I didn’t go to college right away like everyone else around me and, when I finally did go, I worked full-time and took classes at a community college. To this day, I believe I learned most of what I know going to work everyday and interacting with those around me than I ever did in a classroom. I will also never understand the role a science requirement plays in an Employment Law degree program.

Travel.

It doesn’t sound like much, and it probably sounds EXPENSIVE, but so is going out to the bar or club every weekend and drinking. Save up and treat yourself to a trip to Chicago or Disney World or anywhere else that you have never been before. Make last-minute flight decisions, and bring along people you love. Go on new adventures and try new foods and deal with your fear of flying later.

If someone positively impacts your life, tell them.

Someone inspired you to try something new? Tell them. Someone inspired you to go back to school? Tell them. Someone inspired you to order steak instead of chicken at Chipotle? TELL THEM. People like to know when they have made an impact.

If someone NEGATIVELY impacts your life, deal with it

Whether it be confronting them or realizing your life needs some rearrangements and they no longer fit, deal with those negative emotions. It’s going to take a larger toll on your walking around with that weight on your shoulders than it would be to deal with the situation and move forward.

Go after what you want, don’t wait for it to come to you

I beat out Bachelor-level candidates for an internship when I was 20 years old and had yet to graduate with my Associate’s degree. I didn’t NOT apply because I didn’t have a piece of paper signed by a stranger telling the world I had the ability to do the job well – I applied because I believed in the company and the position and the knowledge that I could do really well. And I did – not all big opportunities are going to find you, sometimes they need to be found.

People are not staring at you in the gym or on the beach

Everyone is so worried about their own damn selves to focus on how much you can bench press or what you look like in a swimsuit. Truth is, they are probably no more comfortable in their swimsuit than you are, and they might just be wondering how THEY look in theirs. It’s hot out, put on your swimsuit and have a good time; stress leaves weird tan lines.

Credit cards are the devil

Yes, everyone should have one credit card for simple reasons (building credit, emergencies, etc.) but if you can’t pay off the balance every month, it will come back every 30 days to haunt you. As much as it hurts at first, work with the money on your paycheck, not that magical gift card feeling of a Visa and you will be much better off.

Dress for yourself

No guy is going to see you on the street and think “DAMN she looks flawless in the new BCBG High-Low Jacquard Dress” (trust me). Dress for how YOU feel and how YOU think you look; after all, you’re the person you spend the most time with so yes, your opinion counts.

Cookie dough is not going to make you sick

I mean, it might but, believe it or not, the “salmonella” everyone always warned you about comes from the flour, not the eggs. So do you because #yolo and eat the damn cookie dough.

School is expensive, put in the work

If you’ve ever failed a college course, you know the difference between struggling in high school. When you fail a college course, you are out $1,200.00 and no, they don’t refund that because you’re “sorry” for not trying harder. College is expensive, so put in the work and make it worth your while. Same as with relationships, you will get out of college what you put into it.

Take the path that makes sense for YOU

You don’t need to go to a 4-year university because everyone else does. You don’t need a date to prom, or to buy a brand new house. The path that works for you is the one that was made for you – living in a split-level that was built in 1980 and toting a community college degree doesn’t make you homeless and dumb. Case in point: one of my “community college” professors also taught at a private institute so #smart

You can’t please everyone

Again, YOU are the person you spend the most time with. Focus on making yourself proud and everything else will fall into place or out of your life – the first is meant to be and the latter never stood a chance.

Let. Shit. Go.

Yes, you probably should have been voted “best hair” but guess what, no one will remember or CARE about that 72 hours from the moment it’s released. And no, you didn’t make every green light and was late to work twice this week but it’s in the past and you can’t change the past. Let it go and move forward with positivity.

You don’t need a lot of THINGS to be happy

I have friends that go shopping for new things every other day and let me tell you, they still aren’t that happy. Yes, those $160.00 sandals are cute but I was able to make my car payment on time and still have money left over to fill the gas tank so really #winnerwinnerchickendinner

Water is your best friend

When you’re sick, when you’re healthy, when you’re tired, when you’re cold, water is going to be your greatest asset. This may seem like a “filler” of things I have learned but trust me, nothing feels worse than being dehydrated in the middle of the day and not having the energy to go to gym because you need more water (also not drinking enough water makes your pee stink so….)

And finally….

Help your friends move

Don’t make a stink about it, don’t complain about how it’s taking away from your day and you could be doing such and such instead. Just be a good friend, help them move, and accept payment in the form of pizza.

 

mental health

You’re not a failure.

Solidifying strong mental health is not something that happens overnight, even though it seems like some people were born with the stability of a concrete building.

For me, my biggest milestone to date was realizing that it’s OKAY to reach back out for help when you need it. I spent so much time and so many speaking sessions proclaiming my happiness and how incredible it was to be able to say I have been out of treatment for 6.5 years (will be 7 on October 24th!).

But through all of that preaching, I didn’t realize things had started to get bad again.

I didn’t notice that I couldn’t hold conversations as well, or that I didn’t go out of my way to hang out with people, or that I sat a lot more often at work (I have a standing desk that I usually work at all day because of my low back).

I didn’t notice my mood continuously changing 20 times a day, my workouts getting weaker or my demeanor getting ever so slightly less “pizzazzy” (that’s a word now, it’s been decided).

But my brother-in-law noticed.

And when he brought it up to my husband, my first action was to shut him out and complain about his lack of knowledge and ability to mind his own business.

But the next day, I found myself researching various websites to purchase pills from.

I found myself digging through cupboards for old pills that may have been left over from SOMETHING, I didn’t know what.

I stopped midway through my Google search as it hit me; this wasn’t normal.

My brother in law wasn’t out to get me, he was out to save me.

And I didn’t notice the backslide because it didn’t have anything to do with food.

Food was what I went to treatment for; and my eating habits are fine (#cookiedoughfordinner).

And when I eventually had a mental breakdown on the phone with my husband and then again with my mom, I had to shut out my ego and take control.

That next morning, I emailed the therapist I had worked with while I was in treatment.

The last time I spoke to her was in 2013, and I always saw “recovery” as “never having to meet with her again”.

But that’s wrong.

Recovery is having the strength and knowledge to recognize when you need some extra assistance.

It didn’t make me a “failure” as I so treacherously cried to my husband that it did; it made me strong.

So yes, I have decided to go back to therapy.

And there’s nothing wrong with me (well, except all of these mental issues obviously =)), sometimes you just need some extra assistance regulating your emotions and working through the tough shit.

Noticing a problem and coming up with a solution doesn’t make you a failure; it makes you a f****n warrior.