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There’s Help. There’s Hope! The Emily Program is a warm and welcoming place where individuals and their families can find comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and related issues. This blog is a place for us to share the latest happenings at The Emily Program, as well as helpful tidbits from the broader eating disorder community. Subscribe via RSS to receive automatic updates. We want to hear your story. Email us (blog@emilyprogram.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!

Coping with Video Call Anxiety

A woman sitting on a couch with a laptop in her lap

What were “unprecedented times” in March are now a “new normal.” Many of us have taken our lives almost entirely to our screens, relying on video calls for everything from work meetings to happy hours to telehealth appointments. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to touch nearly every aspect of daily life.

Though now ubiquitous, video calls are still uncomfortable for many and downright distressing for others. Those who struggle with anxiety or body image disturbance may find themselves filled with worry, dread, or self-consciousness upon clicking “Accept” to such a call. The idea or reality of being on camera can trigger distorted thoughts and urges to engage in disordered behaviors.

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Does Life in Eating Disorder Recovery Get Easier?

A person sitting outside in a yoga pose

**Content warning: This is one person’s story. Everyone will have unique experiences on their path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Sarah Granato has been teaching yoga and meditation for 14 years. She is also a doula, an author, and a mama of two. She has created The Emerge Program to help those who struggle with food, body, and eating disorders. It’s a 21-day online program with mindfulness practices, breathing techniques, mindful movement, guided meditations, writing inspirations, and more.

I struggled with food and body obsession as well as bulimia and anorexia for over two decades. I have been in several treatment facilities. They were all as helpful as I was willing to be helped, which was not very much for quite a while. As the years passed, my desperation grew. “Am I going to live the rest of my life like this?” I wondered. “What kind of life is this?” Fortunately, as that desperation expanded, my willingness did as well.

During my last inpatient treatment experience, I was introduced to a gentle mind/body/breath practice, yoga, and that was the beginning of what would be my recovery journey. I was introduced to the tools I use and teach today. It took many years of practice after being discharged, but today I am free from the obsessions and compulsions. I feel strong in body and mind and live an abundant life.

So here is the question: Does life in recovery get easier?

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Fake It Till You Make It

A child running through a sprinkler

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Rachel Wilshusen is a dynamic and vibrant writer with liberal arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, University College London, and the University of Cambridge. After an extensive battle with anorexia, including admittance to an eating disorder center, Rachel wrote Emancipated Love Junkie to embolden others to follow her path toward recovery. Coastal runs with her husband and jumping into ocean waves are her favorite ways to spend sunny mornings in Del Mar, California. Learn more about Rachel via emailInstagram, and her website, rachelwilshusen.com

As a little girl in pigtails racing through sprinklers in the summertime, I knew I was enough.  I polished off ice cream sundaes with pleasure, strutted around my school’s four square court with swagger, and felt at home in my skin. Radiating my true, joyful self, I unconsciously accepted that I deserved all the goodness life has to offer.  But then puberty showed up and life got sticky.  Transferring to new schools each year as an Army kid, I found it hard to assimilate into social circles and allowed insecurities about my weight and appearance to stifle my self-worth.

One early morning, not long after starting university, I caught my naked body in a full-length dorm mirror and, with great finality, pronounced myself a fat failure unworthy of love. This false belief resulted in an extensive eating disorder as I attempted to starve myself into becoming a “perfect” woman with a “perfect” body. I optimistically hoped restricting my intake and working myself raw from sunrise to sundown would calm my anxious heart and prove myself worthy of love. Instead, I chased my tail as a constant wreck, with a tear-stained cheek often glued to various apartment floorboards as I absorbed feelings of defeat, regret, and self-loathing.

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How Do Eating Disorders Affect Relationships?

A young couple

Eating disorders are fierce, all-consuming illnesses. They develop gradually and insidiously, but once formed, impact more than a person’s relationship with food. They damage social relationships as well, affecting far more than the person experiencing the illness firsthand. Parents, siblings, friends, and partners are also subject to the toll of an eating disorder, their relationships with their loved one often strained in its presence. 

Given the secrecy and isolation common to these illnesses, eating disorders are particularly at odds with healthy intimate relationships. These relationships require vulnerability, honesty, and open communication, all qualities that are incompatible with an active eating disorder. The more consumed by disordered behaviors a person is, the more physically and emotionally distant from their partner they often are in turn. In situations where this distance or other relationship distress precipitated the development of the illness, the eating disorder only exacerbates it.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Ashley H.

Two women chatting on a couch

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that shares voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. Here former Emily Program client Ashley H. describes how she defines recovery, corrects a common misconception about eating disorders, and offers advice to those struggling.

How do you define recovery?

Freedom!! Recovery is freedom in every sense – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s not just freedom to eat whatever I want without using behaviors (though that is AWESOME; I can’t believe I missed out on so many good foods when I was sick), but it’s also freedom to live without self-criticism and self-hate. My eating disorder took up so much time and mental energy, and it is so liberating to live free from that prison. Food no longer keeps me from living the life I want to live and doing the things I want to do. I never thought that was possible for me.

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Episode 32: Sharing Your Story for Eating Disorder Advocacy with Johanna Kandel

A woman speaking at a microphone

Episode description:

Johanna Kandel is the Founder and CEO of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, a national non-profit dedicated to eating disorders outreach, education, early intervention, and advocacy. Having recovered from an eating disorder herself, she is a passionate and prominent advocate for mental health and eating disorders legislation.

In the last of our three-part series on eating disorder advocacy and policy, Johanna joins us to talk about the personal experience of advocacy. First she opens up about her own eating disorder, recovery, and journey to advocacy. She then describes how her closeness to the issue has fueled and challenged her advocacy efforts, how her professional and personal motivation has evolved over time, and how she focuses on opportunity instead of cynicism. Underscoring the importance of personal voices and lived experiences, she concludes by encouraging others to get involved.

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