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Articles tagged with: Recovery

Living Moderation in a City of Extremes, Part 2: Guilt and Negative Self-Talk in the Lower Ninth

June 02, 2015.
  • LowerNinthWardSign685x293

    This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client and woman in recovery

    Recently, I interviewed for a teaching job in the Lower Ninth Ward. After a grueling set of questions, an assessment of my tenacity, my ability to weather verbal abuse, and the telling query "are you comfortable crying in public? 'Cause these kids will test you," I exchanged thank you's with the two-person committee. The corridors that led to the exit were thoughtfully adorned with process art, collages, and outlines filled by vibrant crayon. A scrappy Pomeranian licked my heel and at the threshold of the Walgreens-turned-community center, I accepted a "don't call us, we'll call you."

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Living Moderation in a City of Extremes, Part 1

May 26, 2015.
  • photo of a street and shops New Orleans 685x370 

    This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client and woman in recovery

    I've lived in New Orleans for almost two years and I dearly believe I owe some of my recovery to this deeply flawed, deeply rich, and very, very humid city. This of course, is not to say, "come to New Orleans, recover from an eating disorder in ten easy steps!" Certainly not. Recovery is a practice, a set of skills, a way of thinking and acting. But for me, recovery is also about setting goals and meeting challenges and I can think of no more challenging a city than New Orleans.

    Before I continue, I feel obligated to offer a disclaimer. I've tried many times to write about New Orleans. Upon first arriving two years ago, I reacted expectedly: Louisiana is not Minnesota and New Orleans is not like any other American city. And this, at first, is perniciously charming to a born-and-bred Midwesterner. People smile, there seems to be music everywhere, the lushness of live oaks gives gracious respite from a near-suffocating Southern sun. But eventually, the tourist's rose-colored glasses come off and you realize this is a city of extremes: wealth and poverty, corruption and goodness, violence and fellowship. And then of course, the Storm, about which the complex befores and afters I have only just begun to fathom. All that said, I'll do my best not to fetishize the city I cannot help but love.

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Relapse

May 21, 2015.
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    This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Liz Rognes, a former Emily Program client in recovery. She is a teacher, writer, and musician who lives in Spokane, WA.

    I've relapsed many times. I've had everything from little hiccups, slips, trips, stumbles, big falls, to full-on crashes. When I first started treatment, I couldn't make it a day without using eating disorder symptoms or without obsessing about some aspect of food, my body, and my perceived lack of worth. Frequent relapses fed my eating disorder. Any time I slipped or crashed, I would sink into shame. I would count relapses as evidence that I was not capable of succeeding and that I did not deserve to get better.

    Friends and treatment providers would challenge me on that kind of thinking, but I couldn't seem to escape it. I would feel positive when I was doing well, but when I struggled, I felt like I lost all traction, and all of the negativity of the eating disorder would come rushing back at me.

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Skinny Crazy Small Performance in Seattle, WA

May 14, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Sylvie Mae Baldwin

    I remember telling my therapist, "I don't think full eating disorder recovery is actually possible." Now, I wasn't hesitant or unsure that eating disorder treatment was for me – I honestly wanted to get better. I simply couldn't imagine a day free of compulsive thoughts – "don't think about food...you aren't hungry...you just ate...you don't need to eat..."

    But, low and behold, there did come a time, when...after much hard work...I stopped having disordered thoughts. I no longer restricted my eating; when I felt hungry I ate a snack or prepared a meal. My shopping cart grew to include nut butters and full fat yogurts. I was able to sleep through the night and I dreamt of exotic vacations rather than all the foods I was denying myself.

    These changes came about so subtly, so naturally, that I didn't notice them. In fact, it took me writing a play about my experience with anorexia to realize that "that girl with an eating disorder" that isn't me anymore.
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A Little Hope, a Lot of Support

April 16, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Liz Rognes, a former Emily Program client in recovery. She is a teacher, writer, and musician who lives in Spokane, WA.

    photo of Sunset and Palm Trees Maui

    I have always been something of a perfectionist. As a student, I aimed for straight A's and I was involved in everything, but just beneath the surface, I was filled with insecurity, uncertainty, and shame. No matter what I did, I didn't feel like I was good enough. I had terrible anxiety, and I didn't know how to talk about it, so I just kept feeling anxious. Bulimia and anorexia became a way for me to attempt to manage that anxiety, but instead, my feelings of anxiety and shame intensified. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout high school, and when I moved away to college, I thought it could be a way to finally escape the eating disorder. I thought that moving away from my little Iowa farm town, away from old triggers and patterns, might simply erase the eating disorder chatter and urges.

    And, in fact, for the first semester of college, things were okay. I was using eating disorder symptoms less than I had been before. I made friends. I learned about new concepts and theories in my classes: music theory, feminism, philosophy, and I discovered that I loved talking about ideas and examining various points of view. I felt inspired by academia, and I knew that I wanted to give my whole attention to my studies, but I still had the pull of bulimia holding me back.

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Confronting Fear Food in Recovery

April 02, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client and woman in recovery

    When people ask me about my recovery, I always say that it is, above all else, a practice. It's the application of skills I learned in treatment, it's daily reflection, it's forgiveness, and it's grace. Of course, everyone's journey to, in, and through recovery is unique; I'm honored to be given the opportunity to articulate a bit of my own.

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Dismantling the "Shoulds": How Ellen Tailor uses her voice to keep her lifestyle honest

March 26, 2015.
  • image says recovery is possible

    By Tiffany Hammer, Community Outreach Specialist

    Perhaps one of the most culturally ingrained normatives about our culture is the emphasis that we receive from media regarding how one should feel, dress, or behave with regards to our relationship with our bodies and food. In my own personal experiences, even before making eating disorder awareness a professional pathway, I notice that when I get together with my friends, often over food and drinks, how much of a regular topic of conversation it is to discuss: exercises--what we "should" or "have to" be doing, food--the "good" or "bad" of what we have been or are consuming, and body image--what we "can" or "cannot" wear or feelings of "fat."

    Now, I feel hyper aware when these topics come up, and how much I notice myself or those around me, making this subject an introductory topic of conversation. These topics, like "how are you doing?" or "what do you do?", have come to be placeholders in our interpersonal connections, where we feel obligated to answer "fine," "ok," "good" and then launch into a discussion about all the things we "should be" doing. If we lift the curtain a little further just beyond what we are already discussing with the people in our lives, we can start to see that body image, exercise and food, is not just on the tips of tongues, but also bombarding our senses via all platforms of media. How are we to feel great about ourselves when we are personally exhausting the topic, then screen, ads, and even radio are labeling our habits "good" or "bad"?

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Zumba: An Unexpected Weapon

February 17, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Dallas Rising, a former The Emily Program client and woman in recovery

    My eating disorder, like so many others, loves numbers. It loves everything from calories to weight to clothing size. But the numbers it really gets worked up about are numbers associated with exercise.

    When my eating disorder was at full volume, it would make unending noise about "exercise numbers." If these numbers didn't grow (as opposed to the smaller set of numbers that I wanted to shrink), my eating disorder would pummel me with horrible self-image beliefs and I would feel the need to punish myself in order to appease it.

    It won't come as a surprise, then, that part of my recovery plan was to cancel my gym membership.

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Butterfly Love 3

February 12, 2015.
  • This is one person's experience; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Alexandra Miles, a former The Emily Program client in recovery

    Self-acceptance and Self-nurturance

    As I align myself more clearly than ever before with my heart-space, and live with humility, grace, and compassion, I am reminded of my own eternal freedom, my true heart-space, and I begin to believe that each living creature is only a heartbeat away from flying FREE. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  – Author Unknown

    Red roses, hearts, and love fill the month of February, the month of Valentine’s Day. As the day of red roses approaches I am reminded of the beauty of self-love, the seed of Valentine’s Day. A heartfelt relationship begins with deep self-love, self-nourishment, self-trust, and self-acceptance. Unconditional love between two beings begins with unconditional love within one’s heart. As we cultivate love for ourself, then we can love another.

    Valentine’s Day symbols a day of romantic love. Often there is external pressures to have a perfect relationship, be in a relationship, or have an exquisite date on Valentine’s Day. If we shift the focus from the external to the internal, we can utilize Valentine’s Day to celebrate the beauty of self -love.

    We can utilize Valentine’s Day to be grateful for what we have, instead of feel sad for what we do not have. On Valentine’s Day we can treat ourself, adore ourself, and nourish ourself in all forms. The day of red roses, hearts, and love is a day to fill our own hearts with the roses of life and spiritual nourishment. Valentine’s Day can be a day to deepen our connection to our own soul and heighten our spiritual awareness. We can spend the morning of Valentine’s Day meditating on spiritual love.

    If we have a partner in our life we can share the love in our hearts with another being. We can extend our own generosity to another. If we are alone, we can bask in the light within our own heart and soul. Whether single or in a relationship Valentine’s Day can be viewed as a day of deep, soul love. On Valentine’s Day we can remember the deep love our soul has for us. I look forward to the day of soul love and red roses and invite you to as well.

    Tips and Advice:

    • Rejoice in nature
    • Spend time walking through the woods or by a lake, and allow nature to speak to you
    • Spend time listening to your heart and soul
    • Spend time with friends
    • Buy yourself flowers
    • Keep a gratitude journal
    • Surround yourself with loving music
    • Make friends with all of you, even the parts you may not like
    • Open your heart every morning through giving yourself a morning hug

    Alexandra is a survivor of anorexia, asthma, severe anxiety, and chronic pneumonia. Through her own personal healing journey she dedicated her life to living in alignment with her heart. Today she smiles often, rides her horse, paints, writes, teaches Yoga, and has her own healing practice. She is in the process of publishing her book The Beauty of Wings, a personal healing memoir.

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Experiencing Recovery

February 03, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Jenn Friedman, a woman in recovery

    Sunset Maui 2012 685x385

    I want to talk.

    I want to talk but I don't know what to say. I want to say something that sounds purposeful but I don't want to force it. I want to say something that sounds smart but I don't want to fake it. I want to say something that will reach the people reading but I don't know what, in this moment, you'd like to hear. I want to say the right thing, hit on the perfect elemental blend, and in doing so share a sacred space with you on this page. But I don't know how, and I don't know where to start, and I don't know how to weave it all together. What I am looking at it is a blank space and I don't know how to fill it.

    __

    I wanted to recover.

    I wanted to recover but I didn't know what to do. I wanted to recover purposefully but I didn't want to force it. I wanted to recover intelligently but I didn't want to fake it. I wanted to recover in a way that would let me connect with people but I didn't know how they would receive me. I wanted to recover the right way, hit on the perfect elemental blend, and in doing so share a sacred community with others in this world. But I didn't know how, and I didn't know where to start, and I didn't know how to weave it all together. What I was looking at was a blank space and I didn't know how to fill it.

    __

    Without meaning to, I spoke. Without meaning to, I started a conversation. Without meaning to, there are more words on this page, and they have meaning that I didn't initially intend to assign them.

    Now I know where this is going. Now I see a parallel that couldn't have existed had I never started - unsure as I was. Now I see that my words have meaning, and inspire engagement, and shed light on the heart of a process. Now I can direct it, because I know that important material exists, I know that I created it, and I know I have the power to continue. I choose to go on speaking.

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Anorexia vs. Activism

January 20, 2015.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

    By Dallas Rising, a former The Emily Program client and woman in recovery

    I don't consider myself "an anorexic." I do consider myself to be someone who lives with anorexia. Even today, when I'm at a healthy weight, I live with an eating disorder. It's like a demon or a monster that sleeps deep within me and feeds on my shame, insecurities, and fears about myself. My eating disorder is something I live with, not who I am.

    I do consider myself an activist. I'm someone who believes that my actions can matter, and that bad situations can improve if we refuse to accept them and instead work to change them.

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Emotional Casserole

January 08, 2015.
  • By Tiffany Hammer, Outreach Specialist at The Emily Program

    Today I read an article on Slate by a man who described the overwhelming support he and his family received while his wife battled cancer. Casseroles, volunteer rides to appointments, people asking about her progress and how the family was coping, served as much needed emotional support. When his daughter started battling a crippling addiction, the same friends who provided such loving support for his wife were noticeably absent. He reflected on the stigma of mental illness and the apparent isolation from community.

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Are You Pregnant?

December 16, 2014.
  • This is one person's story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed. 

    By Tiffany Hammer, outreach specialist at The Emily Program

    In my last blog I talked about the importance of "I choose to be happy" in my life. That affirmation helped me to break the vicious cycle of negative self-talk that plagued my thoughts and tormented my relationship with food. I punished myself with large quantities of food and thought that no matter how hard I worked on my healthy lifestyle goals, it all felt hopeless. I very strongly believe that recovery is possible, even some days when it can be a struggle. Recovery is a journey, and it gets easier.

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Recovery for life is possible 888-364-5977

Recovery for life is possible

888-364-5977

The Emily Program