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Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

If there is one thing I never imagined I’d be able to do, it was travel to another country. Thoughts of having to get a passport, fly for hours, acclimate to another culture, figure out where to go and how to get there, among other things, created a heightened anxiety like none other. Yet, I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience something new and be able to tell my anxiety to screw off!

It was summer 2016 and I was working in a treatment center with some wonderful colleagues who were planning a trip to Europe to attend a Cincinnati Bengals game in the fall. 14980748_753502604464_8118517951997617941_nWhile heating up lunch in the small staff kitchen one afternoon, one of the RDs going on the trip asked me to go with them. “Uh, I mean yeah, totally I’ll go if they approve the time off for all of us.” Anxiety. Set. In.

I texted my boss and then spoke with her in person. I later learned that yes, it would be possible for me to go to Europe with three of my favorite people. I purchased the plane ticket and took a deep breath as I started the process of getting my passport. And just like everything else I’ve felt anxiety about, getting my passport was not as difficult as my mind made it out to be. A few simple steps and now I have the travel book I never thought I would.

The months before the trip seemed to drag on and I purchased more travel items than I actually needed. I had moved from anxious to excited…until the week of the trip! Anxiety settled back in and I packed, unpacked, packed again. I made lists, checked them off, made new lists. I lost sleep and lost my ability to concentrate. And then THE day arrived.

We spent a majority of our trip in London, with one day/night in Paris. Fortunately, one of my travel companions had previously lived in Europe so she knew how to navigate the tube system and was more organized than my anxiety would have allowed me to be. I considered her to be the leader of the trip and it helped me to be able to enjoy my experiences that much more. Our London hotel was next to the London Eye so obviously we had to take a ride up! We visited many additional sites including Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Harrod’s, and of course Wembley Stadium. In Paris, our main goals were to go up into the Eiffel Tower, eat crepes and get breakfast at a pastry shop. We did all of those things!IMG_0090

Fast forward two years and I’m so thankful for this trip and my ability to power through feelings of anxiety and do something I never thought I’d do. Unfortunately, anxiety’s best friend is avoidance and oftentimes we stop ourselves from doing anything that creates this emotion. By not doing, we relieve the anxiety and are back in a comfortable state. Whew!

Had I allowed my anxiety to keep from going to Europe, I would have missed out on one of the most memorable trips of my life thus far. I wouldn’t have grown closer to my colleagues, tested some of my personal limits, or had wonderful photos to look back on.

So, the next time your anxiety wells up, how will you respond?

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Saying “I’m sorry” is something that comes more easily to some than to others. If you’re at all like me, you tend to apologize for nearly everything regardless of whether there is a legitimate reason to do so. In recovery from eating disorders, drug/alcohol abuse and other disorders, part of the process is making amends with others. Such amends may be made for smaller things such as not listening to the other person or for bigger things like harming the other person emotionally. This amends stage is often not one entered into right away, but when ready, individuals are encouraged to “clear the air.”

Making amends can breathe new life into relationships and can help us feel better about ourselves and our lives. When we’re able to recognize that we’ve made a mistake or fallen short in our various roles, we’re empowering ourselves and moving toward lasting change. It helps us break out of denial.

What making amends doesn’t do, however, is guarantee that those to whom we are apologizing will be receptive to our words or will want to “start over” with us. Why? Because we can’t control the reaction of others and everyone has a right to process through their concerns/issues and emotions at a rate that works best for them. For some it takes years and for others it only takes a few weeks.

As I stated, I’m an overly-apologetic person who thought she had little amends to make. But what I found through my own journey was that I was constantly choosing unhealthy patterns of thinking that kept me acting out on emotions. This led to every day situations where an amends needed to be made and I wasn’t on board. I would be miserable and assume everyone was out to get me, the whole world hated me and others were truly the ones with the problems. After all, I’m the one in therapy working on my stuff.

I was way off the mark.

Yesterday, God was laying some things on my heart and I let myself recognize my shortcomings while sending a couple of emails to people who mean the world to me. In those emails I stated that my own “stuff” is not the fault of anyone else and displacing my anxiety, anger or frustration onto others is very selfish and unhealthy. It felt good not to blame anyone, but to admit that I make irrational decisions in my responses sometimes and that I truly am sorry. It was an added blessing that the two individuals appreciated the emails and were understanding rather than spiteful. I hope to have both in my life for a long time.

You don’t have to struggle with an eating disorder or addiction to recognize areas in which you may have fallen short. Where are you in the process of making amends? Are there things you need to say now before the chance to say them is gone?

Just something to think about…

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It’s that time of year again. Time to recognize and raise awareness about eating disorders (EDs). In my book, this should be done every single day and I know that there are many of us out there who aim to do so.

You may or may not know someone who has battled or is battling an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating/binge eating. Some think EDs are about trying to look like a Hollywood actress or trying to impress a boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s not always the case. In fact, it’s very rarely the case. EDs begin in individuals for a variety of reasons and they manifest in a variety of ways. But there is one thing that’s the same regardless and that is EDs can be fatal (no matter which ED one suffers from). It’s the reality many have had to face head-on at times.

I have a best friend right now sitting in the hospital suffering from the effects of her ED and in August I lost a friend to anorexia. These disorders are not just an attempt to lose weight or to stay as thin as possible. In fact, weight is only one part of the bigger picture..

There is hope, help and healing from EDs. This week is a time to spread the word about EDs and how more than 11 million Americans alone (both men and women) are fighting for their lives every single day. It’s a time to wear purple, to reach out and to speak up. It’s time to talk about it. Period.

There is no shame in admitting we need help. There is no shame in admitting we are afraid. There is no shame in any of it because we are human and we all have our “stuff.” Hope is not lost and in the future when I have clients sitting across from me who are where I have been, my prayer is that I can offer them something to bring them to a place of acceptance, truth, forgiveness and healing. You don’t have to succumb to your disorder.

Take time to visit the National Eating Disorders Association to learn more. There are many good resources on the site, including educational tool kits, fact sheets, recovery stories and more. The more people who are aware, the more people who can recover.

Thank you in advance.

M

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