F.R.E.E.D). I went to my first Lobby Day two years ago when I had just entered recovery and was amazed at the stories people told and the compassion that was shown by everyone who showed up to be a voice for eating disorders. Although it was sometimes discouraging to talk to some of our lawmakers who seemed uninterested and lacked compassion and understanding, I left that day with a sense of hope that eventually, if we keep working at it, we will pass this important piece of legislation.
On Sunday I will be leaving for my favorite city in the world and the place I used to call home (if only briefly), Washington, D.C. to take part in the Eating Disorders Coalition’s National Lobby Day, where people from all over the United States will emerge and tell Congress how important it is to pass the F.R.E.E.D. Act (read the bill here…
It’s no surprise to those of you who are struggling with an eating disorder and have been through treatment or have tried to obtain treatment how inadequate the insurance coverage is, the disease is chronic in most cases (because it’s hard to obtain proper treatment) and treatment is expensive (usually $1,000-$2,000 per day in a residential setting). After being in residential for a mere two days (after three days in a hospital setting) I was informed that my insurance wanted to cut me off and I was on the verge of packing my bags just as soon as I had unpacked them. After being in and out of treatment for the past eight years I knew that I was ready to commit to recovery, I was ready to reclaim my life and because insurance thinks that I’m “all better” because of vital signs and their belief that my body weight was “within a normal healthy range” they thought I was ready to go home, the magic fairy dust had been sprinkled and I had been cured! As soon as I got the news I begged to email the one person I knew would stand up for me and be a voice, the person who had told me that I needed treatment and she was ready to take me herself. After the frantic email she notified me that she would contact my Congressman and advocate to insurance on my behalf. During this same time another girl was going through the same situation–it’s a common situation to be in if you “lucky” enough to be covered by insurance for residential care–when I told her that she needed to have someone to advocate for her she said that she would wait it out. She was one of the unlucky ones and had to leave treatment after the insurance’s company’s doctor thought it was no longer necessary.
Lucky for me, however, my therapist came in the next afternoon and said nine words that I will never forget “You have a lot of people who love you.” My insurance company had allowed me thirty days of treatment. I made a decision at that moment to make each day count so that when I walked out of those doors after those thirty days were up, I would never see the inside of a residential facility as a patient ever again. I am immensely thankful to that friend who I will see this weekend and I pray for her and her work everyday because I am not the only one she has done this for, I am just one of many.
She is the one who has inspired me in everything I do, she reminds me on the days where I struggle that I am worth so much more than a number on a scale. Most importantly she has inspired me to advocate for others, to work to pass F.R.E.E.D until the lawmakers listen, to get the word out there until all of American knows how deadly and dangerous eating disorders are. I will advocate until every person suffering from an eating disorder receives the treatment they need. This bill WILL save lives. If you have never been to a lobby day I encourage you to go, you will be changed. I was, and I have never looked back.
I know what my mom is thinking as she reads this title…”Just sometimes?” Okay mom, noted. Yes, it is true I have been in recovery for well over two years but I am not recovered. There are still days where I fight the urge to revert back to my old ways, jump back into that relationship with my old boyfriend ED, it was comfortable after all despite all the abuse, oh and the fact that he almost killed me. Actress Demi Lovato admitted in a recent radio interview in London as well as a mini-documentary on MTV, the she still struggles with body image and self injury after treatment. The truth is this, there is no special potion or fairy dust that is sprinkled over you when you enter treatment for an eating disorder, you have to work and work hard if you want to recover. It’s not going to be easy, and some days it won’t feel worth it. There were many mornings when I woke up and felt like this…
But I had to get out of bed anyway. I had to wake up, get dressed and follow my meal plan and work on recovery for one more day. The biggest obstacle to my recovery was my pregnancy, well actually after my pregnancy. You see pregnant women, even very pregnant women, or overly pregnant women in my case (I went a week and a day over my due date) are viewed as beautiful and why shouldn’t you be, you are carrying and nurturing a life inside of you! But after the baby is born, then the pressure is on to get off that weight that you put on during pregnancy and get it off fast! I mean Heidi Klum was on the runway five weeks (yeah that’s right five weeks) after giving birth for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in her underwear! My postpartum body was so foreign feeling to me. Like most new moms, I spent the first few months in sweat pants, or leggings hoping I could avoid everyone I saw because I know they would be looking at me and judging my body rather than the beautiful child I have just given birth to right? There were nights that I sat rocking my daughter to sleep and refuse to put her down in her bassinet for the night because I knew the moment I would put her down I would revert back to my old behavior again to speed up the post-baby weight loss the best way I knew how, my eating disorder behaviors. When my mom would come over and point out that my cabinets were empty I would give the excuse that I was a busy single mom that didn’t have time to grocery shop. And on a trip to look for a dress for a friend’s wedding I was attending, I was so horrified with the body that stared back at me from the mirrors placed so conveniently throughout the store that I sent a text to a friend and mentor that read “I hate this body, I just want to go back to ED” and I did, I was ready that night to give up everything that I had worked so hard for and go back to the life that I knew so well. Her reply (which came in the form of a note on Facebook) said “But your body loves YOU” and reminded me that I hated my body when I had my eating disorder and going back to my eating disorder would only cause more disdain for my body. What I have learned in my recovery–and from that Facebook note–is that my body is not broken down into “pretty” parts and “ugly” parts they are all just parts and they serve a purpose. Without a HEALTHY body I would not have been able to have the beautiful daughter that I hold in my arms today. If I still had my eating disorder I wouldn’t be able to chase her around and giggle and play and find excitement in the little things of everyday life because my life wouldn’t be consumed by her, it would still be consumed by my eating disorder. Yet there are days where I am unkind to my body, days where the images that I see on television or in a magazine have me comparing myself, days that I asked my mom if she thinks I look fat. On those days I remind myself what my body has done for me and what it has allowed me to do for myself and then instead of looking at my body with disdain…I take a step back and with deep gratitude tell my body “thank you.”
So if today you are looking in the mirror and pointing out all the things that are wrong with your body, back aware from the mirror, get out a notebook, and write what you are thankful to your body for!
Murder She Wrote has always been one of my favorite television shows, one of the items on my bucket list is to watch each and every episode. Currently, I am on Season 6, Episode 17, Murder According to Melissa–I would be further along but I only just discovered that every episode is on Netflix, I was just buying to box sets as funds became available. They don’t make shows like Murder She Wrote anymore, actually elderly female lead characters just don’t exist anymore, they have been replaced with young heroines in tight clothes, but I have many more blog posts to delve further into that topic. I have wanted to blog for sometime but have not been able to because of an ancient MacBook that held some sort of sentimental value. But the relationship with my MacBook needed to come to an end, it was just not good for either of us anymore. The computer didn’t work unless it was plugged into the wall, and every time I wanted to end the night by writing to relieve a little stress, it would remind me that there was no more room on my hard drive. I could tell that it was ready to retire, but I just couldn’t let it go yet. Finally, after getting over the hump I call my frugality, I decided to make the investment and get a new computer. That brings me to the purpose of this blog, last night as I was setting everything up I was looking for a good background that would give me some writing inspiration. I came across a background that simply said “Be Happy.” Simple, to the point and something we should all remember. After struggling with an eating disorder for 14 years I lived a very unhappy life for a long time. I have officially been in recovery for two and a half years and speak and advocate for those who still struggle and those who have lot their lives to a disease that affects millions of Americans. So I hope you will join me on this new adventure of mine, of taking all of those writings that I usually do before I close my eyes for the night, and making them public here. There is an episode of Murder She Wrote where Jessica trades in her typewriter, which has been her comfortable for her writing for so many years and upgrades it to a computer–you know, the super boxy first generation Mac–although its uncomfortable she knows that she needs to “catch up with the times” and her editor tells her how much more efficient she will be. I’m not like Jessica in the sense that I can not wait to start using all the bells and whistles of my new computer, and see all the adventures it will take me on, and all the things I can explore as an advocate, a speaker, a concerned citizen and most importantly, a mother.