Posts Tagged ‘Guest Bloggers’

Outgrowing Ed’s Clothes

Teresa Schmitz with shirt that says Beautiful Capable Worthy

**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.

While navigating her own recovery journey at The Emily Program, Teresa Schmitz discovered a hidden gift in being known as a great listener with a compassionate heart. Being earmarked as an IT Leader who was more into the people on her teams than the technology they were building, she realized her purpose was beyond her title. She connected the dots and soon realized her purpose was to help empower others. She pursued her dreams of becoming a coach and launched her own coaching business, My Best Self Yet.  She now helps women feel empowered to navigate the journey of loving themselves unconditionally. She also empowers others to know and use their character strengths in the In It Together group coaching program. Learn more about Teresa’s story and follow My Best Self Yet on FacebookInstagram, and her blog.

Self-love journeys are not easy. They cause you to reflect on your beliefs and challenge what society has taught you about your worth and your body.

About three months into my own self-love journey, I spent a few hours doing something that challenged some deeply rooted beliefs. As homework in between my weekly sessions, my therapist suggested that I part with clothes that no longer fit me. She told me it would set me free. I didn’t realize how emotional this would be when I decided to do it one Saturday afternoon.

I went through my closet and gathered up clothes that I’d been shaming myself with. These clothes had fit me only months before when I was on an appetite suppressant that resulted in weight loss. But they no longer fit me now. Former diet plans taught me to keep these clothes as a reminder of what I once could fit into and should aim to return to. Shaming was an everyday approach to getting into those clothes again (along with the next best diet). I thought it was what you did to love yourself. You kept the smaller clothes as a reminder, and you quickly got rid of ones that became too big. I spent hundreds of dollars on clothes in a short period of time. How could I part with the clothes I bought at a “normal”-size women’s clothing store? I thought.

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Redefining My Relationship with Food

A group of friends eating at a picnic table

**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.

This blog was submitted anonymously by a woman in eating disorder recovery.

For most of my life, I thought of food as the enemy. I actually used to say that it was my biggest weakness. It was like a drug I was supposed to avoid instead of something my body needed to live. If I ate only a certain amount or type of food, I was being good, but if I ate more than that limit or a “bad” food, I was being bad. The food made me bad (or so I thought), and therefore it was something I needed to fear or fight. Just like an enemy.

About two years ago, a therapist told me something that helped me finally move away from that thinking. I was working on challenging the idea of “good” foods vs. “bad” foods, and week after week, this therapist kept telling me that food is neutral. It still wasn’t clicking. I still couldn’t get away from the categories. And then she encouraged me to reframe it: to think less of the particular food—and whether it is “good” or “bad”—and to think about my relationship to it instead. Instead of thinking, “x food is bad,” she recommended that I say, “My relationship to x food could be improved.” Rewording it in this way helped me see that it was not the food that was the problem, but it was my relationship with the food that was.

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Melanie Stephen 

Melanie Stephen

**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. This story includes mention of self-harm. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Melanie Stephen is a wife and mother to two beautiful girls. She obtained her graduate degree in social work in 2020 and began pursuing a fulfilling career in the field of eating disorders. She has volunteered her time as a mentor and support group leader, while also working as an Inpatient Clinician for those struggling with eating disorders and co-occurring illnesses. She is pursuing a life that is full of adventures, opportunities, and possibilities that allows for self-growth, passion, authenticity, and genuineness.

Through her recovery, she has learned to be true to herself, scars and all, and to allow the world to see that it’s realistic to be perfectly imperfect. She has earned her certification as a Certified Eating Disorder Recovery Coach and Certified Eating Disorder Peer Mentor, as well as certification in Expressive Therapy. She also plans to continue advocating for the Eating Disorders Coalition and become a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It is her deepest hope that with her personal and professional experiences, she will be able to help others in their journey to recovery and be free from disordered eating.  

Recovery Conversations is a question-and-answer series that features voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. Melanie Stephen joins us today to reflect on the “roller coaster ride” of her recovery and the lessons it has for others currently struggling.

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Written from the Heart

"Your soul is beautiful" by Teresa Schmitz

**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.

While navigating her own recovery journey at The Emily Program, Teresa Schmitz discovered a hidden gift in being known as a great listener with a compassionate heart. Being earmarked as an IT Leader who was more into the people on her teams than the technology they were building, she realized her purpose was beyond her title. She connected the dots and soon realized her purpose was to help empower others. She pursued her dreams of becoming a coach and launched her own coaching business, My Best Self Yet.  She now helps women feel empowered to navigate the journey of loving themselves unconditionally. She also empowers others to know and use their character strengths in the In It Together group coaching program. Learn more about Teresa’s story and follow My Best Self Yet on FacebookInstagram, and her blog.

Before treatment, I’d been searching for a lost soul.

I looked for her in everything I did and in everyone around me. I chased after my career as if I’d find her there—as if my soul and my work were one and the same. I chased after other people’s lifestyles because I thought their lives were better than mine, especially if their bodies were smaller than mine.

I could not find peace within myself because my eating disorder had convinced me I wasn’t worthy enough. If you keep chasing, you’ll eventually find her is what my eating disorder convinced me. We can’t find our souls in a job or another human being (I know this now), and I was exhausted from years of trying. By the time I entered treatment, I was exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It took months of treatment to peel back all these layers and to realize (and believe) I was worthy. On a summer night in June, seven months into treatment, I felt a sense of peace wash over me and words poured out of my soul as if I’d discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I took time to write a poem to myself. It went like this:

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Recovery Conversations: A Q&A with Rachel

A woman wearing a green tank top looking to the side

**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 features voices and stories of eating disorder recovery. In this edition, Rachel reflects on what she has learned about the process of healing and shares her favorite recovery song, strategies, and advice for others affected by eating disorders. 

What one word would you use to describe life with an eating disorder? What one word describes recovery?

Life with an eating disorder is small and life in recovery is big. There is so much life beyond the limited world of an eating disorder that you really can’t see until you have some distance from it.

What do you wish you knew earlier in your recovery?

I wish I knew that recovery isn’t a final destination or place you arrive at all of a sudden. It’s an ongoing process of getting better. I used to see it in black-and-white terms (either a serious eating disorder or full recovery), but the in-between is actually where recovery happens.

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Recovery Is Anything But a Straight Line

Abby Anderson

**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.

By Abby Anderson

My body had an eating disorder long before my brain knew I did. That’s the thing about this kind of disease—it’s not always caught before the damage begins. What’s more, there’s no medicine to make it go away. My perspective in the beginning was centered on extreme perfectionism. What once centered in school and extracurricular activities was now morphing into eating rituals and weigh-ins. I became a physical representation of control.

The day I admitted I had a problem was one filled with relief and fear. I was opening myself up for what felt like the first time in my life. Asking for help was always foreign to me and this was the ultimate reach. It felt freeing to no longer bear the burden on my own, but I was terrified. I was desperate to change my thoughts while maintaining a tight grasp on the physical body I had “earned” through manipulation and scarcity. My perspective was a combination of exhaustion and complacency. I was ready to listen.

Immersed in treatment, I’d say my attitude and interest were positive. It felt good to take the back seat, to have people who were meant to help me and to educate myself on the ways in which my behaviors were anything but healthy. It was such a contrast to my previous life. My physical and emotional muscles were worn out, relaxing into the hands of professionals with meal plans and endless therapy sessions. I was at peace here. Home in a place that I never expected to be. It was the first time in my life I stopped trying to help everyone else and instead started helping myself.

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