Shake it OFF

So on Monday we had a ward talent show, and it was so much fun! It was supposed to be back in January, and I wanted to make a music video for it, so a couple months ago, we got a bunch of the ward members together and filmed all over campus (sorry, that was a really long sentence haha!). We had a pretty good time and I loved getting to edit and put it together. Let me know what you think!

I'm pretty happy I found this hobby of mine, because I really like it. :)

Oh! In other, WAY more exciting news, Carrie Underwood had her baby yesterday! So exciting! They named him Isaiah Michael Fisher and I wanna see a picture so bad but at the same time I wanna respect their privacy haha. His birthday is exactly one week before Carrie's, such fun!


I Had No Idea... What an Eating Disorder was Actually Like [part 4]

Seriously though, who knew? Who could have told me what I was getting myself into? I had no idea how incredibly hard eating disorders were until I experienced one. I don't think you can know fully unless you've lived one.

Around this time a year ago, I relapsed. After two years of being recovered, feeling incredibly good about food and my recovery, and a year after I posted my eating disorder story on this blog, I relapsed. It was awful, and it was worse than anything I had ever experienced before. I couldn't have imagined my eating disorder getting so bad, but it did.

I wrote a post on a private blog while I was struggling last year, about a month after I'd relapsed, and its kind of hard to read it now because it encompasses an eating disorder so well. Almost too well. I don't like thinking of how terribly I struggled, but anytime I consider going back, I read that post and immediately change my mind. I just wanted to put a little excerpt from that post here. Keep in mind that this is extremely personal to me and how I felt in the complete depths of an eating disorder. I was not myself, but I'm posting it because it gives people a small window to what it's like. [disclaimer: sometimes I refer to my eating disorder as ed, like it's a person. I realize that sounds kind of weird but it's a recovery technique that often works and helps.]
me, just a few days before this was written

It's so hard. It's hard hard hard. I hate it it's so hard I want it to go away IT'S SO HARD. I could write those words down a million times more and they still wouldn't begin to describe the magnitude of how hard it is. It's hard. All of it. Recovering (again), relapse, eating, not eating, being hungry all the time, fighting it, letting it consume me, eating, deciding, eating, eating, eating. It doesn't matter what direction I turn, whether it's towards ed or away from him. Every direction has something to do with ed. There's no direction that points me to a direction of a completely ed-free, relapse-gone life and I wish there was. If I could wish this away, I'd have it be gone in an instant.

...I'm in this ditch that's deeper than the one I dug the first time, and I have to figure out how to get out of it. What if I can't? What if this ditch is just too deep? I have no answers for myself. No perfect solutions to get out of this. I feel like I should, because I recovered from this once, so I should obviously know how to do it again, right? But I don't know. I keep thinking I've hit rock bottom, but then I get lower and wonder if there even is a rock bottom for me to hit. That's so scary...and what is even scarier is that I know what I'm doing to myself. I can see what I am doing and where I am headed, but I'm not stopping it. Why am I not stopping it? It's getting worse, and I know that, but I can't seem to get myself to make it stop, and that is possibly the scariest thing of all.

I don't want to do this. I'd be okay if it all just went away right now and never came back. I don't want to eat, I don't want to recover, I don't want to be scared of this, I don't want to be hungry, I don't want to be relapsing, I don't want to fight it, I don't want to give in, I don't want to do any of it. None of it. I want it gone.
(written in March 2014)

I don't often want people to know what an eating disorder is like, because it means they know what my eating disorder was like. It means they know what I struggled with and how hard of a struggle it actually was. You can see from the above picture that it didn't look like I was having a hard time or that anything was wrong, even though everything was (this is a good time to reference part 2 of this series). I don't want people to feel sorry for me, pity me, or see me as weak, so it's really difficult for me to share these things sometimes.

But in the end, I need people to know what an eating disorder is like. Not for me, but for the other people like me. I want people to know how hard it is so they can help the ones who haven't made it out yet, who haven't made it to the other side. Those other girls and guys in the world with eating disorders...they NEED you to know what it's like so that you can help them. People need to know what it's like so that maybe they'll see what they're getting into and stop. It's important for people to know what eating disorders are like so they can realize that people around them are going through these things every single day, and nobody around them even realizes it.

For the record, I've never been in a worse place than I was when I wrote those words up there. But now, a year later, I've never been in a better place in my life, ever. Not just with my eating disorder but with all aspects of my life. There is hope. You can go from total hopelessness to complete freedom. I swear it's possible. Guarantee it. I'm not really sure where I'd be right now if I couldn't tell you that.

I also want to say that what was one of the worst things of my life became one of the best things in my life. [This is not to tell you to start having an eating disorder because it will be a great experience. Please no!] My eating disorder gave me the opportunity to discover my strength, and I learned things from it that I never would have otherwise. It let me understand weakness and vulnerability. I wouldn't give up the experiences and friends I've gained from this for anything. Nothing. And most of all, from it, I grew in a way that let me truly love myself and be happy with who I am. I could probably write a whole post on lessons learned and things I gained from my eating disorder, and I think one day I probably will, but just know, that I couldn't be more grateful for having gone through it.

If you take anything away from this post, I hope you know how hard eating disorders can be, and how difficult it is to just survive one, let alone recover from one. Most of all though, I hope you know that there's hope.

This past week was National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and the theme is "I Had No Idea." If you want to take a quick screening to see if you're showing signs for an eating disorder you can go here. You can also read my eating disorder story here. Please email me (kikicbrownee@gmail.com) if you need someone to talk to or have any questions. I love to listen to your struggles and talk about mine!

[Part 1] Eating disorders don't start out as eating disorders
[Part 2] Eating disorders don't discriminate
[Part 3] Things you should (and probably didn't) know about eating disorders


I Had No Idea... Things You Should (and probably didn't) Know About Eating Disorders [part 3]

I made this list with one of my friends a little while ago and I decided to publish it here because I love it. There are a lot of things about eating disorders that people don't know and I think that many of these go past the typical medical terms and describing symptoms. I hope it's helpful, and if you have anything to add or have questions, please voice them in the comments!


Warning signs of an eating disorder:
    -skipping meals
    -avoiding social situations with food
    -making excuses about not eating
    -withdrawing or seeming depressed
    -avoiding certain foods or only eating certain foods
    -going to the bathroom after meals
    -obsessing about weight, calories, and food
    -making negative comments about their body and sometimes about other people's bodies as well
    -other forms of self-harm

Not everyone with an ed looks emaciated and/or bony-thin, or throws up 50 times a day. Extremes do not determine the extremity of the problem.

Forcing your friend to eat will probably not help. They need to have the desire for change and do it for the right reasons. Counseling and therapy can really help with this!

You can't solve your friend's problem alone. You can't solve your own problem alone. It cannot be done alone! Don't be afraid to ask others for help (other friends, parents, professionals), even if your friend tells you not to. You are saving a life when ask for help.

If you have to question that your friend might have a problem, chances are your friend might have a problem.

Don't compliment people about losing weight, especially if you know or think they have a problem, but even in general! This enforces the belief that what we look like determines our worth, when it doesn't.

Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is just listen and be understanding.

Professional help is essential to recovery. It's hard to go (believe me, I didn't want to. I wanted to believe I could get better without it, but I finally ended up going and I'm so glad I did!) but it's completely worth it and will make all the difference. You don't need to be embarrassed or afraid for going, tons of people go to therapy. You'd go to the doctor if you were sick, so don't feel weird about seeing a therapist.

Relapse happens. Just because it might get better for a while doesn't mean the problem is gone forever. It's something you have to be mindful about and work at (though it gets much easier as you go!). And don't get down on yourself if you do relapse. It's so much easier to get better when you love and forgive yourself (trust me).

Don't joke about eating disorders. You never know who you might be hurting.

Eating disorders are life threatening. Even a "little" problem is a big problem, and can grow to become worse. Just because someone isn't emaciated doesn't mean they aren't putting themselves in danger.


If I would add one more thing, I'd say that eating disorders are a cry for help. You might think your friend wants attention or she's just not eating because she just wants to be thin really bad, but they're so much more than that. Behind the eating disorder is a problem trying to manifest itself and a person who is too afraid to talk about it.

For those of you wanting to know how to help someone with an eating disorder, just unconditionally love them. An ed is an awful awful thing--no matter how I try to describe it, it's a terribleness that really can't be understood fully unless it's been lived. They take away your self-worth, make you feel like nothing, and leave you wondering if you'll ever be able to get free. Love them, regardless of the problem. Don't force them to eat. Love them whether they eat or not. Help them get professional help. But most of all, just love them. Trust me, they need it and want it.

This week it's National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and the theme is "I Had No Idea." If you want to take a quick screening to see if you're showing signs for an eating disorder you can go here. You can also read my eating disorder story here. Please email me (kikicbrownee@gmail.com) if you need someone to talk to or have any questions. I love to listen to your struggles and talk about mine!

[Part 1] Eating disorders don't start out as eating disorders
[Part 2] Eating disorders don't discriminate
[Part 4] What an eating disorder is actually like


I Had No Idea... that Eating Disorders Don't Discriminate [part 2]

It was my first day of going to an eating disorder support group. Did I want to go? Absolutely not. As I talked about in yesterday's post, I had a hard time believing/knowing that I had an actual eating disorder, so why in the world would I have wanted to go to a support group for something I wasn't sure I had? I [thought I] knew what to expect. A bunch of emaciated and bony-thin girls. And me. I was so nervous, and I felt like everyone was going to wonder what I was doing there as soon as I walked into the room.

I wish I could have seen my face when I walked in, because I was so shocked. There were no dying, crazy-thin girls in this room. Everyone looked surprisingly...normal.

I had no idea that girls with eating disorders were all around me. Had NO idea. In my ballet classes, school classes, wards, apartment complexes, etc. Going to that group was the first time I began to learn that my vision of what an eating disorder looked like was completely skewed. If I showed you pictures of a bunch of the girls I went to group with, you would be so surprised at the diversity. There were girls who were small and thin, maybe a little too thin, bigger and curvier girls, girls who looked like models, girls who didn't. I learned pretty quickly, that it didn't really matter what we looked like in that room, because the same thing had happened to us all.

When I wrote my eating disorder story on this blog, a lot of people were really surprised. Most of them had no idea. People expect girls with eating disorders to look physically different--thin, crazy-looking, emaciated--but most of them look pretty normal. This doesn't mean that these girls have "less-extreme" eating disorders or that they're lying. It means that they're stuck in a cycle of bulimia, binging, starvation, exercising, and plenty of other behaviors that keep their weight going up and down. Sometimes, I think this is worse, because nobody sees the internal struggle.

You never know who around you might have a problem. Most of my friends didn't know about mine. Heck, in that first group I went to, there were actually two girls there who were roommates, and they found about each other in that group. Neither of them knew about the other (granted, they were both recovered at that point, but still) and they were both really surprised when they saw each other there.

Eating disorders don't discriminate. This isn't to say that the emaciated-looking girls out there don't have eating disorders, because many definitely do, but they're not the only ones.

It makes it a lot harder to diagnose something when you don't know what it looks like on the outside, but take the chance to broaden your thoughts and remember that you never know, and you might have no idea.

This week it's National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and the theme is "I Had No Idea." If you want to take a quick screening to see if you're showing signs for an eating disorder you can go here. You can also read my eating disorder story here. Please email me (kikicbrownee@gmail.com) if you need someone to talk to or have any questions. I love to listen to your struggles and talk about mine!

[Part 1] Eating disorders don't start out as eating disorders.
[Part 3] Things you should (and probably didn't) know about eating disorders
[Part 4] What an eating disorder is actually like


I Had No Idea... that Eating Disorders Don't Start out as Eating Disorders [part 1]

I remember when my eating disorder first started, in the beginning stages, and let me tell you: I had NO idea.

You might read that and think I'm crazy. "How did you have no idea? "The symptoms are pretty telling, aren't they? Counting calories, obsessive weighing, a desire to be thin, skipping meals, etc. You were a ballet dancer for crying out loud! This stuff is practically geared towards girls like you."

Maybe I should have known. But I didn't.

How could I have known, when all I'd learned about eating disorders was in my high-school health class, seeing pictures of bony-thin girls in the textbook and watching a video about a girl who was a brat about eating?

It started out very small for me, as most eating disorders do. Eating disorders don't actually start out as eating disorders, believe it or not. I weighed myself once a week, and eventually it became once a day, to obsessively weighing myself multiple times a day. That turned into freaking out about my weight and trying to control it by limiting the number of calories I ate every day. Then after all of that built up, somewhere along the way it turned into an eating disorder.

Let me tell you, that even when you start to figure out that you have a problem, and that the problem might be an eating disorder, it's still something that's incredibly hard to come to terms with. How could I have an eating disorder? I wasn't crazy or bony-thin. I was just obsessed with my weight and food (it was more than that, but these are the things you tell yourself). I could stop any time I wanted to (I couldn't).

When you come to terms with having an eating disorder, it's still something that is hard to believe ALL the time. I'd think about it outside of myself and find the whole thing to be incredulous. Me, having an eating disorder. It felt impossible, it wasn't me. It's something you continue to fight with throughout all of recovery, something that can make it very hard to recover, this thought of having an eating disorder but not believing it's actually possible. I'd start recovery, and think, "Is this really necessary? I don't even have a problem, do I? I could stop if I wanted to, this is not out of control or an eating disorder. NO."

It makes it pretty hard to recover from an eating disorder if you don't think that you actually have one. One girl, who had been my rock for a little time throughout recovery, had finally had enough of trying to help me (I don't blame her for giving up on me, I wasn't necessarily ready to recover yet) and ended the friendship by telling me she didn't even believe that I had a problem (SPOILER ALERT: wrong thing to say to a friend who tells you they think they have a problem--never tell someone this, EVER). It definitely crushed me, to say the least, and I spent a lot time wondering if I had a problem or not, instead of trying to get rid of the problem that was apparently there.

Even now, there are times when I find it crazy to think that I had an eating disorder. Last year, I had a really bad relapse, and I obviously knew what was happening because I'd been through it before, but I was full of denial that I had an actual problem. That ended poorly, and eventually I worked my way out of it, but I think if I had just recognized I had a problem early on, everything would have been so much smoother and easier.

You might have no idea that you're on your way to an eating disorder. Nobody chooses to have one, why would they? But they happen, all. the. time. It's only once we start to recognize that, in ourselves and the people around us, especially those close to us, that things can begin to change.

I had no idea, and maybe you don't either.

This week it's National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and the theme is "I Had No Idea." If you want to take a quick screening to see if you're showing signs for an eating disorder you can go here. You can also read my eating disorder story here. Please email me (kikicbrownee@gmail.com) if you need someone to talk to or have any questions. I love to listen to your struggles and talk about mine!

[Part 2] Eating disorders don't discriminate
[Part 3] Things you should (and probably didn't) know about eating disorders
[Part 4] What an eating disorder is actually like
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