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Dear Ana

dear ana, anorexia, eating disorder, ed, ednos, osfed, recovery, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

My dearest Ana,

What are you doing to me? You are driving me insane. Every waking moment is torment. I miss you more than I’ve ever missed anyone. You’re fading from my life and I am terrified.

I have somehow reclaimed my body back, restored my weight, my happiness and my life, but something is missing, and it’s you. Everyday, I’m full of food, but missing you, and I can see you fighting our distance. I can feel your desperation to stay in my life; your claws digging deeper as you’re being sucked away from me.

I want to lend my hand out, and pull you back in, but I’m being told you’re no good for me, and I believe it. Hell, I think so, too. How can I trust you? You’ve stolen my livelihood, my teenage years and ripped pieces of me I didn’t know could be removed. You had me withering away; bones and flesh, swimming in loose jeans.

You didn’t just steal my shape from me, you stole my ability to eat and to function. No more could I sit and enjoy a meal; every meal was a challenge. Counting, measuring, feeling, chewing. And you convinced me it was normal. As long as I ate, I was okay. But, I wasn’t, and you made me believe my body was the problem, when really, the problem was your existence.

We met when I was very young; starring my body in the mirror as it stood in line with my fellow dancers. You criticized me at the mere age of 6. Every inch of my body was unacceptable in your eyes, and no one told me you were wrong. Everyone else followed the same philosophy; thin, thin, THIN. Why didn’t you let me grow up like other little girls got to? Why did you interrupt what was supposed to be the simplest, happiest moments of my life? Why did you make me doubt myself, and compare myself when there was nothing but happiness that should’ve been compared at that age?

You made me weigh my body before I could understand what a pound was. You told me being heavier than the girls around me was the worst thing I could be, and made me blurt my number out in groups, trying to see if I was the thinnest. And when I wasn’t, you made sure I knew. You made sure I doubted my body and my ability to exist, because suddenly, I wasn’t perfect, and it was apparent to myself and the ones around me. I needed to be thinner.

You were winning when my father and I were fighting at the mere age of 12, and he would throw me over his shoulder until my blood had turned my face red and purple. He would chase me around the house as we yelled at each other, make threats to call the police or throw me in a mental ward. He laid his hands on me and tried to throw me down the equivalent of 3 flights of cement stairs. He cornered me and tried to punch me with his large, powerful fists. He would lock me alone in a bedroom that wasn’t mine, to cry and moan for a better day, and refuse my dinner. That is when you won, and when we got well acquainted.

At 14, you became my best friend, and I listened to your words as if they were gospel. We stayed up late through the nights, starring at emaciated bodies that were begging for their revival as if it were pornography. Those girls aroused you as gas does to fire, as lighting does to an empty ocean, as catastrophe does to me. You sat with me, gun to skull, as I scrolled through images and rules and websites that should’ve been banned. You told me this is what I wanted; that this was the answer, and one day, you’d give it to me. You’d give me the goal, and I would get there; dead or alive.

You taught me my mom and dad would never love me, and maybe if I lost a few pounds, they’d notice or they would change their minds about pushing me aside. Maybe they would come to their senses and stop tossing me around like a useless pawn. I was a overly played game, used a billion times over.

“She needs our help.” My mother would cry.

“She’s fine.” My father would flatly respond.

I’m winning, you responded.

We danced the tango, my hand in yours, our limbs intertwining as we made sweet love under broken light bulbs, dancing to my screams. My wrists were handcuffed to you, and though I tried to spin and twirl away from your grasp, you were still able to pull me in and dip me. You’d plant a kiss on my lips; your lips so blue and cold, sucking the breath right out of my lungs.

A meal before us was place for our secret conversations.

“What can I eat?”

Nothing. If you eat, I’ll make sure you pay for it later, you fat pig.

“But, I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten in 36 hours. I have school work due. I need my energy…”

The only thing you need is to shut the fuck up, learn your fucking lesson and quit being a greedy whore.

We carefully decided on pieces that were edible, delicately carving out bite sized pieces that we could take in to convince the ones around me that I was, in fact, okay. Counting what could be counted, drank water to fill the void you created, and fought through every meal like food were grenades thrown at us by our arch nemeses. Scanning cubberts like professionals, labeling different foods under various labels. “Healthy, unhealthy, binge food, NEVER TOUCH AGAIN.” Sat in front of it like it were our God, praying for it to free me from its contents. And when I couldn’t fight the hunger, I binged, and was left devastated, weeping by a toilet or in front of a mirror.

You reminded me of my failure, and I promised I’d fight harder tomorrow.

We’d creep up the stairs in the early hours of the morning, relieve ourselves and step on the cold scale with my decaying body. I thought I was heavy, but truly, the heaviest burden in my life was you.

We would embrace my protruding bones, and they were the lullabies that put me at ease before I went to sleep; singing songs of empty promises for a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where I’d be thinner.

I thought pills and cuts would help and take away the pain you were causing, but it only created new doors for you to seep in.

I tried to fight you. Ana, I hated you. But, when things were too hard, you always came back and promised to give me another shot, I’d just have to try harder or you would leave.

You kept coming back, holding my hand as tight as possible. I trusted you. I loved you. And more than anything, I wanted to please you.

One of our notable successes was my 48 hour fast, but you weren’t proud of me. I thought it would please you, but the binge that followed disappointed you more than I could imagine.

That 2013 summer, age 15, we were like lovers. Everything I did was to honour your name, and I’m sure the amount of food I ate that summer was under a 1/4 of the minimum I needed. You exerted my already exhausted body as I traveled quickly on rollerblades, leaving me feint under the hot summer sun, starving for something more than food. We spent hours in the gym, trying to hide my hideous frame from eyes that did not deserve to see horror, as I focused in a corner on the treadmill, dreaming of the day I could be completely yours.

We remained together as you taught me new lessons only the most twisted creature could create, and we knew we’d never be apart.

I was 18, about to graduate high school, and you must’ve convinced me a diet could somehow save me. You coaxed me into thinking that this could work; that this could be the answer to our clashing dilemmas. I followed at the wave of your fingertip. You owned me.

We followed the rules, and pushed them to their limits. You noticed quick results, and you came for the kill. You took over my body. Food portions continued to shrink along with my size, and it was the first time you manifested yourself into me physically. Rapidly, I became a skeleton, and I had never been more miserable.

For years, I had dreamed of this. I thought I’d be my happiest, but I wasn’t.

We had to measure the things I ate, counting every calorie possible, trying to reduce it to nothing. I spent my waking hours working towards killing myself, and you were the facilitator. Looking at my frail and minuscule frame continued to remind me how in control you were, and how out of control I was.

My eyes were hollow from the torment you were forcing me through. The lack of nutrition left me weak and restless, unable to rest. My boyfriend desperately trying to make me see you for who you really are, and my defiance of his efforts. I insisted you were good, and that I loved you.

I remember this undying love for you and how treacherous that was for me. My love for you was going to rob me of my own body; of my own life. And there is nothing you could promise me for me to ever trust you again.

You were feeding on my life. You were so close to killing me. You almost won.

But, you didn’t. I found recovery. I found happiness, self-worth and stability. I am so close to beating you, to burying you, to kissing you goodbye with a great big punch to the face.

And, I can see you trying to come back, trying to dig your claws into me like you had once done, but I won’t turn back. I’m heading in a direction that doesn’t include you, and don’t think you will ever be invited.

I have never been happier, and I know it kills you to know that, Ana.

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Ontario’s New Calorie Count Law Is Dangerous

 

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“Nutritional information, including calories, is already available on the labels of many items we buy at the grocery store.” […] “As of January 1, 2017, all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell.”

Calories on Menus in regards to the Healthy Menu Choices Act

The government of Ontario has decided that their citizens need to be more mindful of the calories entering their bodies, and has chosen to have all foods and drinks in restaurant chains with over 20 restaurants listed with their respective calories. Their goal is to ensure everyone is getting the right amount of energy needed for their bodies, but this listed number is doing more than that, and sadly, it’s not all good.

On one hand, those who want to lose weight healthily and have the means to do so have an advantage when they’re eating out, but a group has been forgotten in this whole equation.

In the US, 30 million people of all ages and genders struggle with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any one mental illness. From anorexia nervosa, to binge eating disorder, to OSFED (Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder), there seems to be no leg up through their struggles.

I, being a 19 year old woman in eating disorder recovery, diagnosed with OSFED (past atypical anorexia, and currently compensatory subtype) can no longer go out to eat without those numbers haunting me and triggering me. Those numbers call out to me and scream the horrors that I have worked so hard to hush. I am no longer safe when I am out of the house; my nightmares have followed me into my social life and make outdoor meals all that much harder. I could get by, reminding myself that not knowing the calories would be okay, but that safety blanket has been ripped away from me.

My mother offered me food from a Costco stand the other day, and there I was considering it, until that 3 to 4 digit number made my mind up for me.

I am now forced to not eat out, or keep my head down wile my partner/friend orders for me. I can no longer look up at the menu freely, deciding what I want to eat, without letting my disorder make my mind up for me.

This new law is not all good; and here’s why.


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Favours one agenda over another. I am constantly reminded when I go out that my recovery and the struggles I have with my eating disorder are not as important as someone who is struggling with weight loss. There is a divide where one groups’ health is put above mine, and I have no control over it. No where do I see on the Ontario governmental page a worry regarding eating disorders or the benefits it could have on those struggling or recovering.

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It isn’t only in fast food chains. I would be more understanding if these numbers affected the well-known unhealthy fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Wendy’s, because people go there and expect an unhealthy meal. They are aware that they’re not getting exactly what their bodies need. But this law seeps into Pita Pit, Burrito joints and so many other locations that are mainly vegetable dishes. These favoured places of mine have become less safe as the calories stare me in the face as I build a well balanced meal.

Being affected with an eating disorder, 600 calories can seem terrifying when at one time, I considered this more than my daily allowance of calories.

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Calories aren’t always the most influential part of a meal on ones body. This law puts emphasis on caloric contents instead of nutritional contents. They didn’t choose to label the vitamins and minerals, but chose calories. They also don’t state if these are healthy or unhealthy calories. Some people need to watch cholesterol whilst others need to watch sugars, but don’t worry, darling. In this diet culture, calories are all that matters. No need to care about your actual health. (Is you sarcasm meter on?)

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It encourages the notion that fewer calories defines a healthier meal. If I were to have a McDonald’s cheeseburger (290 calories) with a side of small fries (240 calories) and a Medium Strawberry Passion Awareness drink (240 calories), it would amount to 770 calories, which is rather low for a full McDonald’s meal. Compared to a large shrimp burrito from Burrito Boyz with all the toppings amounting to the same amount of calories, the McDonald’s meal will not have the same nutritional benefits or calories from vegetables that the burrito has, leaving this caloric number misleading in some respects to people whom don’t know better.

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The new law does encourage getting enough calories, but also achieves the opposite effect. Though this law states that they aim for people to eat enough calories, it does the opposite. We live in the age of diet culture, where magazines and ads constantly remind us we need to lose weight, no matter how much we weigh. Some diets encourage 1500 calories for adult women, which is less than needed, and encourages our bodies to enter starvation mode. The majority of people nowadays would prefer to consume less calories to lose a few pounds than to make sure they eat enough.

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Children are exposed to calorie counts at a young age. I distinctly recall being a child, sitting at my table eating cereal, and reading the numbers from the nutritional value over and over. I didn’t understand what those numbers meant, but I think I knew even then that it was encouraged to have less of that first number; calories.

This new law may encourage parents to make diet decisions for their children that aren’t totally beneficial as they may fall in line with diet culture, or they may begin to starve their child unintentionally to help them lose weight.

Being easily influenced, these children whom grow into young adults are constantly surrounded with pictures of fit or emaciated models on social media and television, that they don’t understand what is truly attainable and healthy. Ads for weight loss drugs and workout foods or items run in front of the eyes of these children, and they understand the language. They watch social media stars and their family members struggle with weight, and they may do it, too.

Canada also presents the Canada Food Guide to young children, teaching them about calories and exercise. There is no doubt that this encouragement could easily spark an eating disorder in our youth, and an obsession with that pesky little number known as calories.

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The obsession with numbers can perpetuate eating disorders. A common trait in restrictive eating disorders is an obsession with numbers; whether that be calories, weight or measurements. It becomes this internal dialogue where the counting begins. As this obsession increases, that caloric intake may decrease to a starvation diet; anything to be seen as skinny.

We are taught since we are young to obsess over these numbers, and having them in our face isn’t doing us favours.

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Those in ED recovery have a harder time staying on track. How the HELL do you expect me or my fellow recovering peers to stay on track in our recovery; to put our health and our needs first, when that (sorry for my language) FUCKING number is flashing in our faces? How do you expect us to get ahead and be healthy when our triggers follow us everywhere? It would be unreasonable to tell us to just not look, because some of us can’t. We can no longer ignore the calories; we must now try even harder to not let them affect us, and some of us can’t fight that.


Calories follow us everywhere, along with images of the frailest, most photoshopped images we have available. With access to the internet and even more ways to perpetuate eating disorders, nearly nobody is safe from the possibility of it taking over their lives. Male or female; nobody is safe. 

The overall relationship society has with food will not let us get ahead as a society; the statistics for eating disorders will continue to rise unless we take into the account everyone and teach the public about true nutrition and healthy eating.

These calorie listings could cost someone a meal, periods of pain and their life.

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Eating Disorder Diaries – May 15th, 2017

For the first time yesterday in I don’t know how long, I ate until I was full. Not past full, not below full; but my body’s definition of full. I was satisfied with my meal, and had no desire for more.

It was a large success for me because, I have become completely desensitized as to what my body needs. I have starved and overfed it for years, and it’s struggling to find its place.

I never thought I would actually sit at the end of a meal, content with how I was feeling and satisfied with the meal I had prepared and eaten.

Recovery will shock you, eh?


Eating Disorder Diaries is a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.

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How I Overcame a Binge

how i overcame a binge, binging purging starvation laxative abuse, eating disorder, www.slothspeedrecover.wordpress.com, sloth speed recovery

Last night, with the combination of moving and Eating Disorder Outpatient Recovery stress, I found myself wanting to turn to something to feel better. All I’ve known in regards to coping for several years was food control and self-harm. It was a vigorous cycle that never ended with good results, and though I thought I was in control, I had never been more out of control in my life. I would either restrict enormous amounts of food, or turn to eating as a coping strategy.

I was sitting at my desk, talking to my boyfriend. I could feel myself being hungry, but I was crying hard. I was run-down from the go-go-go of my life, and how everything seems to crash down on me. On days like that, I would usually go buy an overpriced bag of chips, consume the whole bag and rid myself of it. But, I couldn’t let myself do that; not in recovery.

This recovery isn’t just about learning how to eat properly again, but to learn not to use food as a coping tool. Food is to nourish the body; not to punish.

For the first time in my life, I admitted to someone that I felt like binging. I used to be too humiliated to speak a word of it. I let my walls come down and confessed to the craving I was having. It was an important first step.

I was hungry, so I couldn’t just not eat, because that would be falling into my restrictive habits; I had to find what my balance was, and how I could avoid losing control.

How did I get through my urge to binge?


I told someone. I took the first step and admitted the urge I had to fall into that coping behaviour. I was up-front with my loved one and asked for their help.

I talked out my feelings and the cause. I told him why I was having those feelings; I felt my life was falling apart all around me. I’m in the process of moving, I have appointments nearly everyday next week, I’m in an outpatient eating disorder recovery program that’s opening up old wounds, etc. It’s important to assess the root cause of those emotions, and why they’re coming up. Write it down, talk it out; I did what I had to do to get through the rough patch.

Because I was hungry, I ate. During most of my urges to binge, I am not usually hungry, but this time I was. I was treading on thin ice; I didn’t want to slip up. I had to be fed, but couldn’t use it to control my emotions. I couldn’t retaliate a binge by starving myself; that wouldn’t be following my recovery plan.

I decided to eat, and assess during if I was still hungry, and I paced myself.

I was mindful when I ate. I kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn’t doing it to cope. I checked if I was still hungry. And, in retaliation to wanting to starve myself, I finished the plate because I knew I needed it.

I didn’t punish myself. I usually use compensatory behaviour to punish myself for eating, and in recovery, that isn’t an option. I made sure to keep the food down and understand that I ate to nourish myself, not to punish myself.


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I am nowhere near perfect or fully recovered; but I wanted to share how I got through that specific urge to binge. I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll be much healthier and have a more skilled way of getting through it.

I do think it’s important we assess why we want to binge, and where the desire is coming from, and I want to continue assessing that, and becoming mindful of my urges.

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Eating Disorder Diaries – April 29th, 2017

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I have made a large amount of progress in relevance to my physical being. I gained the necessary weight to make me appear healthy, I make it through my meals every single day and have overcome my fears of oil and salt (relatively). But I am not healthy.

Last Wednesday, I had my first appointment for the eating disorder program and it tugged at too many heartstrings that I wasn’t prepared to have touched.

I thought all the work I had left was loving myself, but that’s far from the truth.

I constantly avoided any conversation about weight or food or exercise to protect myself; to not get triggered; to avoid falling into the eating disorder habits because I knew I was one strand from falling apart and returning to the behaviours I had gotten so accustomed to. I knew I was fragile.

I may have been eating, but it didn’t mean I could go grocery shopping without crying or freaking out. I could keep my meal down, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t taking handfuls of laxatives. I could drink juice again, but it didn’t stop me from climbing on and off the scale to make sure that number was correct. I could have oil again, but it didn’t dismiss my ability to swallow a bag of chips in a sitting as punishment for having emotions.

I hadn’t truly realized how fragile I had gotten.

Just talking about weighing myself makes me frantic.

I never had issues in therapy; I was always very open in conversation and was honest about myself, but I never had to face my eating disorder like this. I shrivel up, my lips locked tight, my throat swelling on itself, tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t think this would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but it is. It will be.

I am terrified. I just want recovery.


Eating Disorder Diaries will be a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.

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10 Ways to Prepare for Eating Disorder Recovery

10 ways to prepare for eating disorder recovery, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

Eating Disorders are difficult to recover from because they’re characterized by disturbed eating habits and rituals, that are consistently repeated, resulting in habitual behaviour. Trying to break this pattern may be complicated due to food being apart of everyday life and a source of nutrition; being unavoidable. We are constantly exposed to foods that we may not be comfortable around or feel are safe to consume, and we may struggle with breaking habits and routine.

Everyday is a challenge, but with these steps forward, we may see an end to our eating disorder.


 

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Admit to the Problem. There will never be an end to the problem if we cannot admit it. It begins with ourselves, followed by our closest friends and family, and finally, the professionals. We should expect tears and hard times from this confession, but must remember that this is the start of something new. Be prepared for it to be an excruciating experience, with an outstandingly beautiful outcome.

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Seek Professional Help and Build a Support System. During this difficult time, you will need the encouragement and love of the people that mean the most to you, and the professionals that have been educated on your disorder along with the recovery methods. These people will able to aid the construction of  your safety plan, make lists of friends to communicate with and map out coping mechanisms to remain on the recovery path.

Professionals will be able to help with your next steps, whether that be group therapy, eating disorder clinics, meal plans, one-on-one therapy sessions or other options. Try to remain open-minded because, these people are only there to help you.

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Don’t Try to Physically Prove Your Eating Disorder. The recovery process can prove difficult when you feel your body mass does not reflect your eating disorder. It is important to recall that your body weight is not the sole evidence or validity of an eating disorder. They are mental illnesses, characterized by a perception of self and food, and not the gap between ones’ thighs.

Do not try to conform your disorder and recovery to that of someone else. Every person is unique, along with their respective disorder, and you should not be trying to emulate anyone else. The focus is you and your recovery; not that of a popular Instagram star.

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Be Uncomfortable. Put yourself in situations that you never wanted to face. Go out to that fast food joint with your friends like you’ve been wishing to visit for years; eat in public; let yourself eat “unsafe” foods. This process is about breaking rituals and routines, and to do so, you have to go places and do things out of routine or your comfort zone.

Be logical. Do not expect yourself to eat a burger, fries and drink non-diet soda in your first outing, as it may be overwhelming and throw off your recovery. Take baby steps whilst continuing to progress. Go at your pace.

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Don’t Hide Any Feelings from Your Supports. If you are struggling to eat a meal, and your friend confronts you, don’t pretend your refusal is from a tummy ache. Be upfront and tell them that this specific meal is very hard for you, and that you will need time and patience to conquer it.

When you feel upset about your body, or sense a relapse occurring, speak up. Voice your feelings of lack of control and be honest regarding the trigger. Keep open communication and always be honest.

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Be Strict with Your Boundaries. Do not let someone disturbed drag you back into your disordered eating habits. There are people who will want to discourage you, act as if you look healthy and don’t need recovery, but they are wrong (according to you, your loved ones and medical professionals). If they are a disturbance to your recovery, you need to cut them out and no longer give them the time of day.

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Don’t Let Yourself Skip Out on Important Appointments. It doesn’t matter if there’s a concert or a cool party, you cannot skip out on important therapy sessions and clinic dates. You will be diservicing yourself, and nobody wants you to do that.

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Relapse Is Practically Inevitable. Be rational and expect there to be difficult times, relapses and feelings of regret regarding confession, but you must remember that you do not want to live like this anymore. Your eating disorder was never a friend or a healthy process, and it wants to destroy you. The best thing you can do for yourself is fight it.

Ride the relapse thoughts and behaviours, challenging it at every chance you get. Do not let yourself spiral. Keep your recovery in control, and consistently remind yourself the reasons you chose recovery.

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Loving Your Body Will Not Be An Everyday Occurrence. Some days, you will look in the mirror, proud of the weight you’ve gained and the way it looks on your frame, and other days, it will be your biggest nightmare. Understand that those negative feelings regarding your body are fueled by the eating disorder, and not a healthy mind. Your body is beautiful, it’s healthy and it’s on its way to recovery.

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You Are Not in a Race; Pace Yourself. Do not let yourself be affected by the hoards of others in recovery. They are not you, their experiences and feelings are different, and their recovery will reflect this diversity. You cannot expect yourself to attain a goal made for someone else. This recovery is yours, and yours alone. It is not a competition, it is not a race; it is your life.


You cannot expect perfection in a process like this. Be reasonable, be understanding of your limitations and goals, and don’t give up for anybody or anything.

Remember; you will recover and this eating disorder will be history.

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11 Ways to Maintain Employment with Mental Illness

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Balancing the world of employment with our never ending mental illness is a feat to conquer. Many of us have been fired or have had to quit because of our illness; whether we landed in hospital, had a suicide attempt, or just plain burned out. We have to apply techniques to keep our motors going and complete a hard days work.

It will never be easy, but it can be done when we apply these 10 simple techniques.


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Notes. Mental illness can take the better of us and sometimes, our memory goes with our health. To keep on top of our work, it is beneficial to take notes of all the important information or procedures you need to follow. On shift, bring the notebook with you to refer to it and take notes. Use colours, stickers, drawings or tabs; anything to have it appealing and stimulating for you.

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Honesty. Try to keep open communication with your employer. You don’t need to disclose your diagnosis or provide any information you aren’t comfortable with sharing, but you can state that you have medical issues with appointments. If you have scars and are comfortable with showing them, tell them in advance and proceed to wearing short sleeves. It will be important for your employer to be aware of your need for medical attention (whether you state mental or physical is your choice) and dates or appointments, as they can try to be understanding and accommodate accordingly.

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Allow Mistakes. We disservice ourselves by not allowing mistakes, and when we make them, we crash and burn. A mistake is not a portrayal of your character and it does not invalidate your capability as an employee or human being. You cannot beat yourself up over mistakes, because everybody makes them. They’re natural and are a part of the learning experience. Floors and counters can be cleaned, orders and items can be returned and people are understanding. Let them happen, and have fun with them.

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Consistent Therapy. Attending therapy consistently will help you regulate emotions and anxieties, especially around the job itself. It will be useful to have that third party available to brainstorm ways to improve your work environment and performance. Any troubles that may be weighing you down at work could also be alleviated through talking.

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Self-Care. It is important to put yourself first. Do you need a coffee or tea to calm down before work? Bring a mug. Are your feet sore? Take a warm bubble bath. Is your brain on overdrive? Watch a corny comedy. The smallest actions can keep you relaxed before work, and reward you after work. 

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Goals. Human beings are goal oriented creatures; we thrive on success. The smaller the goal, the quicker we achieve, the happier we will be. Set daily goals that are easy to achieve, like attaining hygiene, eating well, and arriving at work 10 minutes early. These goals, especially accomplished before a shift, can help the shift go smoother. It will boost confidence and production level.

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One Task At A Time. Mental illness can throw us in overdrive, hoping from one task to the next without thought. We forget our previous task and leave a mess for someone else to clean up. If you were working in a restaurant, for example, and you were cleaning tables as someone walked in; don’t drop the rag. Finish the task as it is a short one, tell the customer that you will be with them and possibly crack a joke to amuse them during the short wait. There are priorities in the workplace, but tasks that are short can come first. If you are doing inventory though, do not leave the customer waiting until you are done. Prioritize, and take it one step at a time.

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Work From Home. If the social aspect of the workplace is weighing you down, opt for working from home. There are many jobs available through online companies where do not need to interact with people face to face or through phone calls. You could try market research, customer service through emails or even freelance transcriptions.

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Self-Employment. Why not try to be your own boss and start up something new and exciting? Self-employment allows you to be in charge and open up a business for yourself, on your own terms. Photography, writing, art, business; the world is yours. The issue with self-employment is that it does take time and money before ever making a dollar; it is a slow process with no guarantees. It can start exciting, and end with you feeling drained and exhausted. The trick with self-employment is learning business, marketing, discipline and persistence. You will have to work another job until any income can be made.

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It’s Not The Be All, End All. Don’t depend your life success on this one job. It is likely that this will not be your last job, and that if you do get fired or need to quit, it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t the job or career choice for you. If you lose employment, try to get back up and start looking again. You are capable, you are valid for employment and you have value to a company out there.

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Recovery. The best way to maintain employment is to commit to recovery. Recovery will build up your confidence, help break bad coping habits and teach you self-understanding. It is an all around the clock job itself, but will be rewarding if you commit to it. You will inevitably see improvement in your workplace, yourself and your happiness.


Ultimately, your highest levels of success will come from doing a job you love, but if that isn’t an option, you have to stay persistent and take care of yourself.

Someone with mental illness can be successful in the workplace. You have to believe in yourself, build your confidence and focus on maintenance. Be the best that you can be.