It’s Time to Talk About It: Lessons Learned from my Eating Disorder

I don’t talk about it very often, but since the National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week theme this year is, “It’s time to talk about it,” I figured a post was in order. If you want to read my eating disorder story, you can find it here. I wrote that post four years ago. Since then, I’ve had my fair share of struggles, relapses, and lessons learned. I decided to write a little bit of what I’ve learned, because I think a lot of it relates not just to eating disorders, but to life in general. #relatable

Lessons I learned from my ED:
Express your emotions or they will express themselves in unhealthy ways. My eating disorder has never been about the food. I’ve found that for me when i’m feeling triggered or relapsing, it means I’m feeling insecure, I need attention (in the way that I just need to know people care about and love me), or it’s my anxiety manifesting because I’m afraid to face the real world.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: YOU are an investment. The amount of time and care you put into yourself is what you’ll get out of it. If I don't take care of myself, my eating disorder is going to try and take care of things for me.

Always be prepared with a backup plan and a team of people to help you. I’ve had two big relapses in the past four years. The first time, I didn’t see it coming, I avoided dealing with it when it came, and by the time I went to therapy a month later, everything was completely out of control and it took me several months to get out of it. The second time, I had learned from my mistakes, so when I saw the signs I immediately made a therapy appointment and told people who could help me. I did what I could to prevent that relapse from happening, but eventually it still came and it was definitely hard, but I got out of it much much quicker because I was prepared. I was also ready to just admit it was there and face it head on right away.
Being recovered doesn’t mean you’re invincible, it means you’ve learned how to say no and get a handle on your weaknesses. Triggers and relapses might happen, and that is OK. Just be ready when they come, and don't be afraid to ask for help from several different sources either.

Hard things suck, but part of being human is doing hard things. This isn't me telling people to just "get over it," but hard things in our life are inevitable. I wouldn't be half the person I am right now if I hadn't had an eating disorder. So while I wouldn't wish on anyone else or wish it back on me, I'm grateful I had it because I'm a much better and stronger person than I would have been otherwise.

Know your limits, and accept them. This.is.so.hard.for.me. One thing I love about myself is that if I want to do something, I do it. I teach myself how, I find ways to do the thing, I go around the no. I have several interests and I love doing as many different things as I possibly can. This is great until you realize that actually doing everything isn’t possible and will probably just cause a meltdown and force you to then do nothing to compensate (true story, don’t try this at home). I’ve had to learn the hard way how to accept what I can and can’t do and now instead of matching my limits to my workload, I changed it around and I match my workload to my limits. Realizing and deciding that ahead of time has made all the difference for me.

Sometimes you just have to trust. Trust yourself, trust your loved ones, trust your doctors, trust God that things will eventually be okay, better, and easier. No matter how unhealthy or dangerous something is, leaving a comfort zone behind is HARD. For a while, it’s harder to move forward than it would be to just go back. And when I first recovered, over five years ago, I went back and forth on recovery A LOT. The only way I eventually I got out of was by continually trusting, and forcing myself to keep moving forward, no matter how scared or uncomfortable I was. When I think about how long I struggled, and how off and on I felt with recovery, I realize how much of a miracle it was that I was able to recover. An eating disorder feels extremely hopeless and impossible to ever get out of, and I couldn't do it until I started putting every single bit of trust I had into a higher power. I made it out and now I live a fairly normal life. And I know that if I could do it, then anyone else can do.

It is worth it. It does get easier and so.much.better. The Vlogbrothers once said that “bad news happens all at once while good news happens slowly.” It takes time to see progress. I won’t lie and say life is perfect now, because it is NOT. I still get triggered. I can’t skip meals because there's a good chance I'll skip more if I do. Some mornings I wake up and the last thing I want to do is eat breakfast, and I have to pull open the list on my phone of reasons why I can’t just relapse again. Because it was something I did for a long period in my life, it’s never going to stop being an option in my head. I think about it often. I think about the people I’ve hurt, and I remember the hardest, worst, and most horrible days. Those memories don’t leave me.

But it’s worth it when I think about how I don’t get scared anymore every single time I eat food. For five years food was a constant fear and thought in my head, and now it’s just food. When I see a relapse coming, I can recognize it and ask for help right away. It’s worth it because now my life is mine. I’m in control, and I get to choose what I want to do with it. Few things are more freeing than that.

I’m talking about it because I want others to know that they can too. There’s a huge stigma in talking about mental illness, and if sharing some of my story is a step to changing that, then I'm more than happy to do it. Thanks for reading, and if you or a friend would like help or more info on eating disorders, you can go here (or email me!).



It was the year I…
-bought a car
-traveled to Reno, NV to see Carrie Underwood in concert
-started working downtown
-crazily agreed to film and edit a 40-ep web series (and had so much fun doing it)
-went to San Diego Comic Con (for said web series)
-took an amazing trip to Guatemala
-moved out
-made a Harry Potter short film (the DREAM)
-sent my other sister off on a mission
-saw Carrie Underwood in concert again in SLC and MET HER (the OTHER DREAM)
-made a Star Wars video
-got to be a part of Apple Juice Productions, which meant filming and editing amazing things with other VERY talented female creators (THE REAL DREAM)
I loved it all so much. And of course along with it it all came loneliness, a lot of tears and many sessions of therapy, and so much insecurity. I’m still scared of most things and I’m still not the greatest at balancing my life. It wasn’t perfect, by any means.
But it was the best year of my life. I learned so much, had a ton of fun doing it, and made many new friends (who I hope will still be around at the end of 2017). I happily look back on it and am excited to see what comes next.
(honorable mentions for the year also include: my hot water bottle, Stranger Things, Snotgirl–and reading other comic books!), slopsicles, DEER, taking more time for illustrating and art, our suffragette sashes, Twim (my instant camera), reading the BSC, meeting three owls!, La La Land, holy cows, and discovering all the treats that Trader Joe’s has to offer)


the year of 24

Today is my last day of being 24, and tomorrow I will be 25! It kind of feels like a Big Deal, and at the same time, it does not. 25 is weird for me--I remember when my aunt turned 25 and I thought she was incredibly old and adult-ish, and how she said she was having a mid-mid-life crisis (joking of course). When my mom was 25, she was married and pregnant with her THIRD child. I was already a whopping four years old by that time. There are many things that I thought I would be doing at 25 that i'm not, and there are many things I'll be doing at 25 that I never could have dreamed would happen. But before I get there, here's a list of a bunch of fun things I did all while being 24 years old.

Bought Carrie Underwood's Storyteller album
Said goodbye to my best friend in the world/sister Sidney as she left on her mission for 18 months (and wrote her every week)
Performed in Savior of the World
Got a job with the LDS Church
Went to Cheyenne for Christmas
Bought my first car
Went to the Sundance Film Festival with Alyne and Carina
Transferred over to the Media Library Team in April
Went to Reno for the Carrie Underwood concert and got waved to by my idol on April 8, 2016.
Finished the Harry Potter series for the 14th time! (plus read and was disappointed by The Cursed Child)
Said yes to filming and editing the Cate Morland Chronicles and became grateful to Chelsey forever for asking me to do it, because it changed my life for the better and brought me new wonderful friends like Amanda, Madeline, Ellen, Brooke, and many others.
Bought myself an instant camera and found true love
Went to San Diego Comic Con with Madeline and Amanda to film for the series and had SO much fun
Bought tickets to see Carrie Underwood again in November!
Took the absolute BEST trip to Guatemala
Went to Salt Lake Comic Con in April and then September, where I met Millie Brown and Evanna Lynch.
Filmed a bunch of weddings and started to work on expanding my videography business
Started reading comic books and instantly fell in love (and now want to make a comic book)
Filmed and edited 50 VIDEOS (on average that is about one video a week!)
Found out my other best friend in the world/sister was going to serve a mission and saw her get her call to Redlands California (leaving October 12)
Drew and illustrated a LOT more
Signed a lease on a house with Amanda (moving in the day after my bday)
Started working on a Harry Potter fan film about Lily Evans and friends (in which we are shooting TOMORROW)

24 was AWESOMEEEEE. And obviously 25 will be better!


April 8, 2016: Carrie Underwood Concert Number FIVE

This post is here for my sole purposes only, because it deserves to have a place on the blog forever and ever as the current best day of my life! OBVIOUSLY.

Quick rundown: When Carrie Underwood announced the first leg of her wondrous Storyteller Tour, no Utah dates were announced. I repeat, NO UTAH DATES WERE ANNOUNCED. However, I'd been to four of her concerts, and this was simply a small hiccup in the road. My mom is the greatest and has been to all of her concerts with me. She's now the only one I can go with to a Carrie concert, because I know nobody else would be as much fun or be able to experience it the same way. Anyway, when I told my mom this, she didn't even question the fact that we were going to have to go see her in concert somewhere else. So after much researching and planning, we decided on Reno, NV and many long months of excited anticipation began.

I got the day off of work and we road-tripped the long and pretty boring way to Reno. One cool thing about the trip was that we took it in a BLACK CADILLAC. I took my car in for a repair while we'd be gone and the only rental car they had left was a Black Cadillac. It was very boujee and we had no complaints (only that it was so new we had trouble working some of the controls at one point haha). We stopped at the Salt Flats and took a few photos, and also stopped in Elko and Winnemucca (I would definitely recommend taking trips to these lovely middle-of-nowhere-towns if you ever get the chance NO PLEASE DON'T).

Reno is..put shortly, a place I really have no desire to ever visit again. It is a smaller, dirtier, and less exciting version of Las Vegas. We took a visit to the University of Nevada - Reno campus, saw the Reno arch, and searched for a while before we finally found a place where our food wouldn't smell like smoke. I was verrrry anxious throughout the whole night because I was terrified that something would go wrong and also excited about the concert. I can't help but get like this in high-excitement/stress situations. But once we got into the venue, all my fears went away and everything I felt was pure happy.

Easton Corbin and the Swon Brothers were the opening act, and while they were great, we all know all I wanted to see was Carrie Underwood. And then, she came, and thus began the greatest night of my life. It was THE most amazing concert EVER. We had floor seats and I have never been so close to her. I definitely cried multiple times during the night and just felt so incredibly grateful for the opportunity. All the waiting, driving, and anxiety was worth it. Because I was there and Carrie Underwood was there, and she was singing amazing things and it was all just incredible. (Side note: if you would like to know reasons why I love Carrie Underwood, you can read so here.)

(btw, WE WERE SO CLOSE. These pictures are not zoomed in, they are an actual representation of what we were seeing so it was amazinggggg!!!)

When she sang "Two Black Cadillacs" (because of COURSE it happened during this song, are we even surprised?!) I looked around me and noticed all the people around me with their phones up videoing her, and I thought about how weird it must have been for her to be there singing to a crowd of people with all of them taking pictures/videos of her in response. So in that moment, when she was right by the stage part where I was at, I put my camera down, put my hand up, and waved.

And what do you know SHE WAVED BACK TO ME OMG I DIED. (I'm very sorry this is such a fangirly post, my goodness, but honestly, how can I not?!) I am pretty sure I legitimately died and went to heaven for a split-second. And what do you know, my mom happened to be one of those people taking pictures at that moment (for which I was ever so grateful) and she got a photo of it!

To see the person you love and admire most in the world is already an amazing thing and almost more than my heart can take, but to have that person look at me and know I existed even for just a second? I hope everyone gets that opportunity at least once in their lifetime, because it truly was incredible.

The rest of the concert was amazing. And the rest of the trip, regardless of all my fears, went completely smoothly and we had a great ride back to Utah (albeit a little sad that the concert was over). The even greater silver lining of all of this is that a week before we left for Reno, Carrie Underwood announced a second leg of her tour, and guess which place is the last stop on the tour?

You guessed it...SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH! So Carrie, I'm coming for you again November 28, floor seats and everything. And obviously. I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!

New Normals

I have always been a hater of change. I can think of multiple situations--my family moving when I was thirteen, friends getting married when I wasn't ready for them to be, taking an unwanted break from school, and moving home again after six years of not living there. Obviously..life changes. It ebbs and flows and we adjust to it as we need to. We HAVE to adjust to it, because sometimes there is nothing else we can do, even if adjusting means going through coping mechanisms that may or may not be unhealthy.

My life this past year has been a conglomeration of change, more so than usual. I finished school, I left Provo, and moved home, my sister left on a mission, and I spent four months out of the year performing in Savior of the World three nights a week. These changes were something I got used to, and were, for the most part, welcome. Those first few months of living at home were very chill and consisted of editing videos, hanging out with my family, cleaning my room, and doing a few face painting jobs here and there. Then in December I went from doing (let's face it) basically nothing every day to getting a full-time job at the church in less than a 24-hour period. And then my flexible life changed into a 9-5 job where I suddenly started making money, got a car, and started living a stable life I have never truly lived before.

Let me say this, stability is amazing. I can fully attest to that, because ever since I left home to go to college, my life was nothing but stable. It was VERY emotional, my environment of living places and friends/roommates constantly changed, I lived paycheck to paycheck, I loved school and struggled in it at the same time, for various reasons, and for the most part, I lived a pretty normal college life (aka it was crazy). So now, after being in a full-time job for exactly six months as of yesterday, the stability I currently have is amazing. Regardless of that all though, I'll definitely say that the first month-ish of it all was a huge adjustment for me.

And now, after experiencing much stability and normality, my life has begun to get crazy once again. Crazy in a very good and exciting way, but crazy nonetheless. Crazy can be the only word to describe everything suddenly picking up in momentum all at the same time.

Two months ago, when my Freshman roommate Chelsey asked me to be a part of the production team for a new web series she was producing called The Cate Morland Chronicles, I jumped at the chance. She and the other producer/my now co-director Amanda warned me multiple times that this was going to be a BIG commitment and I eagerly said yes to everything. I definitely didn't realize what I was getting myself into, and I'm glad I didn't, because I might have said no, and then I wouldn't be having the amazing experience I now get to be a part of.

My weeks have now consisted of casting, planning, and prepping for LONG 12-hour shoots on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. I get to work with some very talented and fun people, and every day I'm either ready to die of happiness or die of overworking myself (sometimes at the same time). I realize it sounds insane, but we've just started, and I'm already having some of the most fun I've ever had.

With new stress comes new territory and I am trying to learn how to navigate through this "crazy" new normal of mine. My anxiety levels have been pretty low for the past little while, but since all this has started, they've gone through the roof. With anxiety, for me at least, come panic attacks, lack of sleep, headaches, and a constant nauseous stomach. Because of this, I am definitely not eating as much as I should, and because of that, along with everything else on top of it, it shouldn't be a surprise to me that I've been getting triggered much more than usual.

Being triggered brings on a huge amount of fear for me. Most people don't know this, but two years ago I relapsed...very terribly...back into my eating disorder. This relapse was not one I'd want to repeat, and I know. I KNOW that if I relapse again, it will be much worse and much more difficult to get out of. It's definitely not something I'd want to do, and I'm also not sure it's something I could do again. Which then puts me in the situation of...I basically CANNOT relapse. Or else.. As I realized this yesterday, it brought on a full-blown panic attack, something I have been able to avoid for almost a year until last night. Nothing scares me more than my eating disorder, as much as I hate to say it.

However, I am not going to stop living my life or stop doing the things I love, even with the threat of my biggest fear in my face. A comforting thought came into my mind this morning, of something one of my friends and I talked about two years ago. That my life is not always going to be the same, and throughout it, I'm going to have to continue to re-learn how to be recovered from my eating disorder in different situations. Two years ago, learning that meant I needed to relapse. Two years later, learning it again means I can't relapse. It was a comforting thought, because even though I have never experienced this particular situation in my life yet, I have the tools I need to re-adjust and continue to live a happy and healthy life. It will just take some getting used to at first. It's also helpful to remember that even though it may seem like a HUGE thing, but its really just all in my head and I am the one in control. (cue Carrie Underwoods song "So Small")

Although I've always been a hater of change, I'm trying to be less so. Because while change does mean people and things I love leaving my life, it also means different, and sometimes even better people and things I love entering it. So with a cautious little fist bump I go into the fray saying "yay change!" (and then go hide in my bed)

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