wise words to think about when you have a major slip in recovery

IMG_1172

2 days I went through something that triggered a range of thought patterns and behaviors that were most prominent on the height of my eating disorder 3 years ago when I was 21. Usually when I experience a trigger, I slip and I take 2 or 3 steps back in my recovery, but then I’m able to bounce back from it within the hour. This particular trigger however, was much more severe. I didn’t take any steps back. Rather, I fell into a bloody pithole and I’ve been struggling to get out of it ever since.

Sharks are pulling at me. My arms are flailing madly. My mind is overwhelmed.

I was criticizing my body. I was in distress. I was thinking that I needed to lose weight by the weekend. I started thinking of restricting and going on diets, wanting to exercise a lot more, and even contemplated taking diuretics. I was almost tempted to do so yesterday; I was staring at the bottle that’s being kept in the kitchen, playing with it. fiddling it and reading the pamphlet over and over again. After about 5 minutes I abandoned it and went back to my room to continue packing. What’s scarier was that I never took diuretics and/or laxatives during when I was severely struggling. Never. In the past I never dared take diuretics and or laxatives yet now here I was, just suddenly picking it up and wanting to consume them. I had wanted to get skinny so much yesterday that I went to a new extreme of wanting to consume diuretics / laxatives after my meals. This was a new behavior. Very new. I myself was so surprised at how easily the thought of taking it came to my mind.

What had happened to me? Why am I becoming like this? This isn’t me. I don’t know this person. 

I lay in bed at night with my heart racing. I was panicking and thinking of how fat I was. My body felt incredibly big and I didn’t like it. On the one hand, I was attempting to reason the ED voice, but the other, Snix told me to just screw it and do whatever I wanted to get skinny.

I went from practicing mindful eating and learning to love myself to suddenly wanting to starve and restrict, wanting to take laxatives, fearing feeling full and exercising as much as I can to get skinnier.

Something had seriously gone wrong.

I tried changing my thoughts and reading self-affirmations online. It didn’t work.

But so so so thankfully, my bestie said something this afternoon that struck a chord in me, and I want to share some of her words with all of you:

‘What do you think you’ll achieve if you indeed become as skinny as you wanted to be? What is this thing that’s so important to you? You are everything great too, dear. You’ve got a family, a healthy body, a great exercise regime, freedom to eat whatever you want and go dancing whenever you want, so many coo ass friends to chat with, a spiffy blog, a sense of humor etc etc. Why, I don’t understand, out of all these things, being skinny is important to you? Is there something else that’s really the problem?  Do you want other people to smile at you, hiding their fangs, telling you you’re sooooooooo skinny, sooooooo pretty, soooooooo enviable? Because I don’t think you do. I think you’re happy with what you have, but the Devils are telling you you need more when you really don’t. “

If you’re struggling right now, ponder over these words.

What is this thing that is so important to you?

Advertisements

International Women’s Day: reflecting on what I’ve learned about empowerment

It just dawned on me that we’ve already entered March. Its baffling how time flies by so quick because honest to God, it felt as though it was only a few weeks ago that it just turned 2015. Its making me reflect on how time waits for no man and reminding me to appreciate the little things in life. I’ve been stopping more to marvel at sunsets and array of clouds spread across the sky, staring at fallen flowers and thinking how pretty it looks even on the harsh hot cement ground, petting stray cats near my apartment and bringing them cat food.

I’m dedicating this post to mark International Women’s Day (8th March 2015), a day for celebrating the milestones and achievements of women, calling for gender equality, raising awareness about the subjugation of women’s rights in countries with regards to issues such as reproductive rights, fair wages and domestic violence, as well as women’s empowerment.

There are quite a number of women’s issues that I’ve felt very strongly about on based on the readings I did, such as reproductive rights, the LBGT community, domestic violence and child marriage. For today’s post, however I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned about being empowered.

I’ve been doing some reflecting and I realized that I’ve actually grown quite a fair bit as a person.  I can say without a doubt that I’m not the same person as I was before. I’m a little more confident, a little more wiser and my outlook on life has changed. I used to hold such overly idealistic perceptions about life, about love and about relationships and I think my ongoing recovery from, and battles with my eating disorder, from heartbreak, from meeting people of all walks of life last year and the type of travels I did have sharpened my expectations and given me a real dossier on the realities of life. To me empowerment means strength, knowledge and bravery.

The trials and tribulations of 2014 and I guess even 2013 has taught me what it means to be empowered in various contexts:

Relationships

I used to want to maintain good relationships with others all the time and making them happy at the expense of my own personal happiness. Now I’m slowly, and still learning to let go of that. I’m learning to speak my mind more. I’m less inclined to wanting to please people, especially if they’re not close friends, or get them to like me because my wellbeing isn’t in their hands. I’m not afraid to burn bridges if it means distancing myself negativity, especially people who don’t know me as well as my good friends do. People will walk away from you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do the same if they aren’t making you happy or making you doubt yourself. If you’re going to cry about every single person that leaves you every time, you’re only displaying a weakness within yourself.

Empowerment means to know when to distance yourself from negative people instead of wanting to please people all the time, from people who don’t make you happy, from people whom you should have let go of a long time ago, of people taking advantage of you. Empowerment means to know which relationships are the ones you should keep and which are ones you shouldn’t.

Love and Romantic Relationships

I used to have such idealistic perceptions about love. I held this fantasy that there’d be a Prince Charming somewhere along the way who’d sweep me off my feet; that heartbreak was something that wouldn’t happen to me. But after the months it took me to get back up on my feet again after being broken, hearing personal stories from female friends, and meeting different types of men along the way, I’ve learned how absolutely naive I was, and how I’m still very much unaware about romantic relationships and about human desires. I used to like romantic movies and swoon over them. Man meets woman. They fall in love. He does something corny to get close to her: learn a new dance, lose weight, take part in competitions, learn a new sport etc. Now I can’t stand them because I know that’s not how it will always be in real life. I’ve friends who’ve fallen for the charms of sweet-talking suave men who end up having sex with them and then dropping them like a hot potato after. Not just here in Singapore, but some European friends too. I’ve had some men – not all but some – who hit on me in bars being a little too sexually aggressive for my liking and when I reject them, they immediately turn their heads away and target another women using the same tactics. 

Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there’s a Prince Charming in the future for many women, and that not all men are conniving foxes who want to only have sex with you and run off. But I personally don’t want to hold myself to that by holding the mindset that all men are romantic beings who wouldn’t want to hurt me and put myself in a vulnerable position, and know I might meet some bad ones along the way who life doesn’t always give you what you want straight away. Its probably a hard thing to do because I’m a sensitive person and human behavior, especially when intoxicated by love, can be hard to predict, but here’s to doing the best we can. We might go about making mistakes a few times, but after that, we will know, and we will learn, and we will do our best to not repeat that my changing our behaviors because nothing ever goes away until it finally teaches us what we need to know.

Empowerment means to protect yourself from vulnerable situations by being smart and being aware. Empowerment means to know how much you’re worth and to think twice about accepting a man who cannot keep up with you. Empowerment means to question a relationship that isn’t giving you what you want, making you sacrifice more than your partner does and eventually decide to walk away from a relationship if over time, isn’t making you happy, isn’t making you grow or if its not giving you what you truly deserve.

Body Image

In the years I’ve struggled loads to be healthy and love my body without hurting it through starving, bingeing, self-harm and compulsive exercise. I always strived to be as thin as possible because I hated being bigger than my friends. I didn’t like my tummy rolls, my chubby face, my calves. Pretty much everything about my body because it just wasn’t skinny. I only started putting in a lot more effort into taking care of myself last year by altering my eating habits (i.e. no restricting and no bingeing), running more and going on a dance rampage. Through improving my health and learning to change my thought patterns I’ve slowly come to understand the true meaning of loving your body and accepting it. I reflected about this my post on discovering what body image empowerment means through a striptease workshop I did a few weeks back.

Empowerment means to accept that bodies come in various shapes and sizes, because everyone is different. It means to reject the ideals that society and the mass media has enforced upon us for decades and to not compare yourself to other people. Empowerment means taking care of your health and being the best you that you can be without the need to gain validation and approval from others about your look.

______________

This doesn’t mean that I’m now a guru who now won’t make the mistakes that other people make and will go on on to lead the best and happier of lives. At the end of the day, I’m still human and if there’s one thing I learned from my education in psychology, human behavior can be hard to predict at times. I’m only 24 and I’ve so much more about life and love I need to know but with this increased level of knowledge and awareness gained from self-discovery and interaction with many different others (especially people older than I am), I hope that I will continue growing in strength and knowledge and passion so that when I’m 90 and looking back at my life, I will do so with pride and awe instead of disappointment and regret.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY PEOPLE. I’m grateful for the women who helped fight for the rights of women around the world and for women who have pushed me to discovering myself and becoming the best version of me 🙂

IMG_7535

IMG_7527

IMG_7541

IMG_7633

IMG_7765

IMG_7766

IMG_7590

IMG_7768

IMG_7711

IMG_7689

IMG_7712

********** can i interest with you with some bloopers*******

IMG_7619

I had already removed my contacts and disposed of the pair before realizing I wanted my sis to take these pictures for me so I ended up holding my glasses like these half the time just so I wouldn’t need to keep taking them off and putting them on again!

IMG_7643

MEEP

IMG_7703

HAIRFLIPS ARE NOT AS EASY OR NATURAL AS THEY LOOK. LOOK AT THIS UNNATURAL ONE

IMG_7716

Glad to see my mum enjoyed having fun with photos as well 😀

on friendship and support during ed recovery: for the incredible girls who’ve seen me at my worst

IMG_6118

IMG_6125

IMG_6126

IMG_6155

(PC: zee)

Friendship and social support are the cradles of not only your life, but also during your recovery from your eating disorder.

Having a close circle of friends who understand what you’re going through is essential. They are the ones whom you can rely on and turn to for help and a listening ear (or three) when you feel you’re about to burst from stresses, frustrations and funks at any second. They’re the ones who will motivate you and haul you back up on your feet. They’re the ones who direct you to the light at the end of your self-constructed tunnel. They’re the ones who understand you. They’re the ones who will stick by you throughout your journey.

I’ve known these two girls since I was 17. I was 17 when my disordered eating patterns started cropping up, but I kept my eating disorder a secretl until I was probably 19 or 20 when I finally told them what I was going through. They’ve seen me at the height of my eating disorder days. They were there supporting and comforting me while I sat alone in my room crying because I had just binged on an entire bag of cookies. They were there helping me see reason and explain very calmly why it was okay to get a B on a test and that it wasn’t the end of the world just because I didn’t get an A. They were the ones who helped take the focus away from my perceived flaws and instead, see my worth as a person. They were patient and listened to me while I sat on the bathroom floor contemplating drinking that bottle of bleach. I remember #1 homegirl’s words clearly til this day “Have you ever thought about the friends you will leave behind if you go ahead with what you are planning to do? About me and Zee?” The truth was, I never thought about it until she mentioned it and truth be told, I think that might have actually saved my life at that very moment. They didn’t judge me when I told them I wanted to be skinnier because I wanted to look like models and because I hated my body. They listened to me as I cried about disempowering events in my life that broke my soul over the giant cup of yogurt we were supposed to be sharing. They were so patient with me during my wild mood swings –  especially during our time abroad together on our overseas internship in Australia where I was beginning to deliberately starve myself and obsessively exercising – and still chose to stick by my side instead of completely dismissing me as a stuck-up and flighty kabootz who deserved nobody’s companionship.

I meet people who’ve come to me at different chapters in my life; at different chapters during my eating disorder recovery. Some, I meet in Chapter 5 just as I’m starting therapy where I’m still perfectionistic, hard-headed and afraid of change. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go out anywhere. Some, I meet in Chapter 7 just as I’m in the middle of therapy and in a state of confusion as I was trying to make changes, get frustrated at making mistakes and not seeing results. They couldn’t understand why I found it hard to accept my body and I was happy one minute but incredibly down the next without a discernible reason. Some I meet now in Chapter 11 just as I’m in my current transitioning phase where I am starting to shed old behaviors but still have remnants of old thinking patterns and behavioral tendencies: wanting to go out yet still over-plan and worry too much. They don’t understand why I worry too much, probably even think I’m boring and have no semblance of a life & wonder how I will ever be happy.

I have to explain to them that I’m recovering from an eating disorder and yes I am afraid of change and yes, I wanted to control every aspect of my life but I want to change now and yes, even though I am  getting better and want to go out more and live life, I’m still trying to do new things but you just happened to have entered a phase of my life where I am transitioning and learning how to shed my old skin and adapt to a new environment and so yes, change is still hard for me.

Of course after I tell them my story they understand, but sometimes you need to know they can never fully understand your situation as much as the friends who’ve been by your side since Chapter 1, or the early chapters of your eating disorder/recovery journey. These are the friends who understand the changes you are going through as you progress through each chapter. They are the one who support you through the struggles and difficulties through each chapter and they are the ones who will accept you and encourage you to move ahead. They are the ones who will understand your struggles and how said struggles have contributed to your personality. They are the ones who see your worth and build up your esteem. They are the ones who will give you their time and listen to you. They are the ones who understand why you are the way you are now and accept you for who you are unconditionally.

These are the ones who are worth more than gold and diamonds and the ones worth holding on to.

Who are the ones who’ve helped you and been by your side supporting you throughout your eating disorder recovery journey?

people

To Miss Miller, Nette, Jess, J & Joe, Jia, and Big D, thank you for being there for me, for helping me and supporting me through my ups and downs.

But for these two incredibly amazing funny, zesty, passionate and feisty homegirls, Shu & Zee – this one for you two. Thank you for being my side these past 6 years. They’ve seen me struggle, succeed, fail, fall, get up, survive and change. Thank you you tolerating me, understanding me, helping me, supporting me, encouraging me, being patient with me, helping me, listening to me, comforting me, advising me & wanting the best for me. Am so incredibly grateful that the both of you here are in my life and please stay in my life for as long as you can please thanks because you guys are my rocks

IMG_6151

on dealing with bad days during my ed recovery

1

(source:tumblr)

I am only human, and because I am only human, there are days when I don’t practice what I preach during my recovery from my ED. “Embrace your calves because its exhausting to spend the rest of your life hating your body”  God I can’t do this my calves are huge can you just let me wallow in distress already so excusez-moi while I Google ways to lengthen my calves.  “You don’t have abs like Jillian Michaels but hey don’t worry because we need to embrace our bodies and don’t forget that there are millions of other women who don’t have her body too” Who are these women and who cares about them?! Remember to eat when you experience hunger cues and not eat because you’re bored” Oh sod that already so shut up and give me the chocolate!

I know I need to practice more graciousness and gratefulness in my life and appreciate what I currently have, given the limited time we have on Earth, but I’m not some new age yuppie. Some people experience inner peace by reframing their negative thoughts and repeating positive motivational quotes all day long, but me? I’m the girl that needs to express my anger and frustration out instead of keeping them in. I’m a vocal person. I just need to release that anger and then move on.

I’m telling you this because my blog posts may give you positive vibes, but I’m still human. I’m not positive all day every day. I’m real. I have days where I look at skinnier girls on the streets and just automatically hate them even if they may be the nicest people, because I know I can’t have that body even though I’ve accepted that I have a curvier physique. I have days where I want to wear cropped tops but feel like I don’t deserve to wear them because I don’t have flat abs and get all depressed at my body. There are days when I feel like my skin is stretched too tight over my body and I feel that I’m just about to burst any second. There are days when I feel so incredibly bloated and my clothes just feel so tight on my body that I want to do nothing but wear oversized tees and shorts, wallow in bed and moan about periods and how they make me puff up like a pufferfish. There are days when I literally just want to eat all the juiciest burgers I can get my hands and dip fries in the sweetest nacho cheese dip and stuff my mouth with the best peanut butter ice-cream and just pour an entire packet of chocolate chips straight into my mouth, & yes, there are days when I think about how different my life would be if I were thinner and then this makes me want to be skinnier.

Its so hard to get over such funks because they are incredibly energy-draining and literally vacuum the life and optimism right out of you. But then again I know I don’t want to be the girl in my past who would internalize her frustration and sadness by bingeing and self-harming. I don’t want to be depressed about unhealthy things and end up doing unhealthy behaviors. So now I get over such days in the simplest of ways. I just ditch the cropped top and choose something that flatters me more and won’t make me want to squeeze and mangle my belly bulge when I look in the mirror. Remember this:

tina

Or better yet, I just don’t look in the mirror. Instead of wearing jeans or clothing that skim my body, I wear loose and airy dresses. And yes, I will wear my oversized tees and shorts, stay in the comfort of my room and dance away. I will work out more in the gym and get rid of the water retention and boost my endorphin levels. I’ll go out and dance at salsa socials. I listen to fabulous music with fabulous beats. Like fabulous latin beats from Ricky Martin. Bruno Mars makes me feel like the woman I deserve to be. Taylor Swift helps me Shake it Off. I listen to 80s music and I listen to Glee covers. You can’t really go wrong with the right music. And yes, I will cave in to some sugar.

Of course as usual I don’t always do them, or rather sometimes I end up doing these activities but don’t always feel 100% better, but I do feel an emotional improvement nonetheless. Sometimes I end up not doing any of those and simply just wallow in bed and cry my heart out because strangely enough I do feel better after that too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, whether you’re recovering from an ED or not, there will be days when you hate your body and feel upset at it after going through a period where you feel good about yourself and feeling like a new-age goddess. And its only normal for that to happen. But know that bad things don’t last forever, and so these feelings will go away, but only if you don’t let yourself be affected by it. Find ways to distract yourself from these triggers. I can’t always be an optimistic burst of bubble sporting motivational quotes all the time because it makes me feel so pretentious as that is just not who I am. I appreciate people who motivate me by listing all these motivational pictures and quotes. I do I really do, but you know what? I just want someone to be all: Oh please she doesn’t have your curves, girl I know you can pull off high waisted jeans like Beyonce does jumpsuits. Okay I’ll take you to my kickboxing class, the instructor will make me cry and want to go back home. Don’t look at that mirror! Here just put on some lipstick you’ll look fab. Who cares whether or not guys like skinny girls?! Look good for yourself and not for some guy. 

You get what I mean right?

So I distract myself by doing all those. I dance, I stay home or go to socials, I work out, I avoid mirrors, I wear clothing that make me feel good about myself and sometimes I’ll just cave in and eat that ice cream. Whatever gets me through the day – as long as its physically, emotionally and mentally healthy – I do it, simply because I need to.

`What makes you feel better and good about yourself, both physically and mentally, when you go through such “i hate the world, don’t talk to me, hand me those chips” funks?

You’ve been trying so very hard. Give yourself a break.

tumblr_n3ovt13Mcb1qljj91o1_500 tumblr_n5tclue1B21rsyukao1_500 tumblr_n16qc0uWab1r4r2g3o1_500 tumblr_ndruz07DOI1r1qgwmo1_1280(sources: tumblr)

Buonanotte. That’s goodnight in Italian. Don’t you love how that sounds?