Writing Saved My Life

Something super exciting happened this week: I published my new book, Choosing Life! This is the third book I’ve published in the past three years and will complete the Changing Ways series that I’ve devoted my life to since I was seventeen. For those of you who don’t know my story, I started writing in eighth grade. It began as a half-assed attempt to please my then-therapist, who was constantly suggesting coping skills for me to try, but it quickly became something much more. I was deeply entrenched in my eating disorder at that time and struggled to talk openly about what I was going through. But when I wrote, it felt like a weight had been lifted of my chest. Writing became my voice during those dark and scary years when I was very sick. It basically saved me.

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Refeeding My Anorexic Child

Helping a loved one get well when they’re ill usually involves doing what you can to help them relieve their discomfort and fight to overcome their illness. You’re working together. This isn’t the case with mental illness. For a teenager with an eating disorder like Julia, wellness and relief from pain were not her endgame when she was in crisis, nor we were in it together. It was so complicated and counterintuitive as a parent and caregiver. I couldn’t understand why anyone would feel compelled to harm themselves. But mental illness sends a different message to the afflicted. It makes everyday living full of conflict. Anorexia, experts say, is the worst of all of them with its high mortality rate and long-term physical damage.

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Surviving Eating Disorder Treatment

This past Saturday marked the five-year anniversary of my admission to Center for Discovery, my last inpatient treatment facility. It still gives me pause sometimes when I realize how long ago that was. It’s a good reminder of how far I’ve come and that although I still struggle and have challenging days, it used to be so much worse.

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Food Deprivation

Hungry. Low energy. Trouble sleeping. Irritable. Anxious. Hair falling out. Changes in mood. Always cold. These describe Julia when she was in the throes of her eating disorder. They also describe the symptoms experienced by kids with chronic hunger due to poverty. I find it curious that I have a daughter recovering from an eating disorder and a volunteer job coordinating a food assistance program for public school students with food insecurity. I didn’t think about this serendipitous connection in my life until it came to writing this post, and now that I am, I’m wondering if it was a subconscious, spiritual intervention or simply a coincidence. It gives me pause.

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