Does anyone else hear Destiny’s Child when they read the word “survivor”?
Mmmmmmm. Yep, I totally just did a sassy dance on my chair. The sad thing is that this is so 1990 to 2006 (I googled (y) ). The youth of today are probably seeing the word survivor and thinking this:
It’s a travesty. I mean the chicken pahm and tuna fish…
But really, my boyfriend and I were talking the other day about the things that kids are totally missing out on nowadays. Like ET! I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan, but it blows my mind when I make an ET reference to someone and they’re all crickets. Or fortune tellers, dunkaroos (which apparently you can still buy but they’re hard to find), MASH (the game), hackey sacks, gel pens, wall-mounted pencil sharpeners, and actually renting VHS’s at the video store (or really just having a video store). Does anyone else remember buying a new CD and actually getting angry when the leaflet inside the front cover didn’t have the lyrics printed out? It made it so much more work to sing along with it on my boombox to my hairbrush microphone, under the watchful eyes of my O-Town poster!
I’m gonna put my dentures in now and move on with life…
Okay, back to where this started: survivor… STOP music, STOP… or specifically Survivor Sunday. It’s a concept I’ve wanted to start up for quite some time, and have thrown around without too much pullback, but I finally decided to bite the bullet after getting a few positive responses!
One of the major issues with eating disorders is the feeling of isolation, or an inability to relate. Either we’re stuck because the people around us in our immediate environment do not share our issues, or we feel trapped in a cycle of avoidance because we don’t trust ourselves to be around food, or not be exercising. And while it helps to read other’s stories, and we can usually find something that resonates with us, sometimes one person’s musings just don’t fit with us. That can leave us feeling even more alone, even more “freakish”, and even more imperfect. The common line:
“Man, I can’t even have an eating disorder right! I’m not doing x, y, or z, like so and so! I don’t struggle with that, but I do struggle with ___. Obviously I’m just stupid thought because NO ONE seems to have the same issue, even in the ED community.”
Reality: You’re still struggling, your problems are no less problematic, you are not “failing” at having an eating disorder/being in recovery, and chances are, someone somewhere has the exact same issue.
AKA: You’re not alone.
And as much as I enjoy the positive feedback I get on my words, I know that the reality is, I don’t resonate with everyone. What has worked for me, may not work for you. What I struggle/have struggled with, might be completely different. What is scary for me, could be a piece of cake for you, or vice versa. And that’s why I wanted to start this (ideally) weekly post: Survivor Sunday.
Let me start here: if you’re pursuing recovery in some way, if you’re contemplating a change, or if you’re simply just opening your mind to the possibility of another way of life, you ARE a survivor. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and anorexia nervosa specifically has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – it is estimated that 10% of individuals with AN will die within 10 years of the onset of the disorder.¹ Bulimia Nervosa has an average lifetime duration of about 8.3 years.² With numbers like that, with realities like that, it’s important to value the tremendous achievement it is to rally against it. A choice like that literally can make a life or death difference. It doesn’t matter if you “weren’t that sick”, or were only “kind of anorexic”, whatever that even means. You never know what the other road travelled could have lead to, and it’s not a road that I suggest you go back and try out. You’re a survivor.
You’re a survivor as much as someone who enters remission from cancer is a survivor.
You’re a survivor as much as someone who lived through third degree burns is a survivor.
Just because the wounds aren’t visible, doesn’t mean they’re not there.
So now that we’ve determined this, what is this whole Survivor Sunday shenanigan?
Sunday, for many, is a day of reflection, rest, replenishing, rejuvenation, and readiness for the week ahead. It’s about examining both where you’ve been in the last seven days, and where you’re going in the next seven. And that can get you down. If you’ve been struggling, you might feel like you haven’t accomplished much. If you’re nervous about something coming up, you might be more vulnerable to triggers in the days leading up to it. And Survivor Sunday is about both of those things: where you are, and where you’re going, as well as how you’re going to get there.
Every (again, ideally!) Sunday, I’m going to be posting a contribution from another Survivor. It brings in the other points of view that I might not reach, and a breath of fresh air to the blog space. Plus, if you decide to contribute (hint, hint), it’s a great way to connect with others, share experiences, and promote your own blog, if you have one, a bit!
It’s a great way to show everyone how diverse eating disorders are and that we are not alone even though so often it feels as though we are. Plus, as everyone’s disorder is different, everyone has different rules, everyone has had a different experience, etc, this gives the opportunity for you to connect with someone that I potentially can’t! I hope that you’re just as excited as I am!
So how’s it going to work?
Firstly: There is no “I don’t know how to write… I’m not good enough… It won’t be very good… etc etc….” ED beats us up enough. Don’t do it to yourself too! This is our individual experiences, and it’s the story and the thoughts and the stuff you put into it that counts. I have no rubric… I’m not going to send it back to you and say, redo it, it’s not up to standard! I welcome everything and everyone. However there are a few ground rules. And bear with me, I’ve never done this before so whilst I get it working there may be add ins or whatever to this list as I figure out what works and what doesn’t:
- No numbers related specifically to you- i.e., weights, distances ran, amount of times purging, calories eaten etc, etc you get the idea. No need to feed the comparison monster.
- In general, keep the language clean. I can do a swear word here or there, if it’s emphasizing something in a way that no other word really can, but if it’s littered with them, it doesn’t work for me.
- I’m not pro ana, or mia, and while this should be evident, I’ll iterate it. We’re not glorifying the ED here. I’m pro recovery.
- Be respectful of other’s privacy. If you’re telling a story, don’t use other’s real names etc etc, because they might not want their story broadcast.
I’m blanking. It’s common sense stuff really. That being said, note I will require the submission to be sent to me no later than the Friday before the post. I will be reading over all submissions before they are posted just to check that we’re all jiving but I’m sure we will be 🙂 If things come up that pose a concern, I’ll bring it back and we’ll work it out (hence needing at least a day in between so we can edit if need be 🙂 ) . Similarly to respecting other’s privacy, I will at all times respect yours. It is an honour to have you write for the blog, and I value your opens and honesty. If you do not want to have your name posted with your submission, let me know. If you want the name changed, either do so directly in the post (but let me know too obviously so I don’t give you a byline), or tell me, and I can change the name for you. Similarly, if you want some self promo for one of your projects, note a link to your page etc, and I’ll for sure work it in!
SO WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT?
Answer: Anything your little heart desires! It could be recipes, it could be aspects of recovery, it could be your ED story, how it developed, things you learned, relapse, triggers, treatment, how you’ve grown, your hopes for recovery and life beyond an ED, etc etc etc… ANYTHING. I’m all ears, as long as it is pro recovery. Traveling with an eating disorder, how to cope with stress, being in university and having an eating disorder… I don’t know. I could go on and on!!
WHAT IS THE COMMITMENT?
None. There’s no commitment… although if you want to be a regular contributor I would not object!! You can test the waters. Maybe you only write once, maybe more than once. Maybe you write once now, and then are inspired again in 2 months, and decide to write again. Feel it out. I’m feeling it out with you too!
Also, I’m toying with the idea of starting a fb group or page or something so that all of those who contribute to survivor sunday can get updates to this or whatever all in one place, and talk about ideas etc too, but obviously as anonymity could be a factor, am not sure whether or not this would be helpful. Let me know your thoughts!
Furthermore, if you know of anyone who might like to contribute to this, feel free to pass this along! Looking for as many people as possible 🙂
So, let me know your thoughts, ideas, when you’d like to write, etc and we can go from there. Feel free to leave a comment, or email me, or instagram… You can reach me at:
Note: when emailing, make sure you attach a subject line, or you’ll probably get deleted without me reading it if I don’t know you 🙂
AND WITHOUT FURTHER ADO… THE FIRST CONTRIBUTION!!
Our first contributor is Emily of Em Recovers. She is a beautiful soul that I have had the pleasure to follow on wordpress for a while, and I am totally honoured that she would take the time to write and share her unique perspective on things. Be sure to pop by her site and give some of her awesome posts a read… with a latte, or some peanut butter and oats in hand, because you might just get hooked for a bit :).
The Answers Lie Within Me
The end “food goal” when it comes to my recovery is to be able to feed myself intuitively. Your end goal may be different, but I do not feel like being held back through the rigid barriers of a meal plan is healthy for me in the long term. Many others have this same goal and “intuitive eating” is a phrase thrown around left and right in the recovery community.
If you suffer from an eating disorder, I am sure that you know that it is “not all about the food”. It’s a coping mechanism that affects so many parts of our lives. Intuitive eating is not something that I am actively trying right now, but I am still able to practice being more intuitive in other aspects of my life. Being more intuitive and trusting my gut has helped me reconnect with my hunger/fullness cues, and I believe is putting me in a closer spot to being able to escape into the freedom from ED rules that I so strongly desire.
In IOP, on my blog, and on Instagram I see these beautiful souls asking questions right and left about what others think they “should” be doing. I’m sure you’ve seen these: How many calories did you eat to restore weight? Is it disordered it I count macros? Would it be a behavior if I went to yoga tonight? And maybe you’ve asked some of these questions too. I know I have, especially early on in my recovery. I still do ask them. I’m starting to learn, however, that the answers lie within me. Only I know if eating Arctic Zero is a behavior. Only I know if meal planning ahead of time is disordered. Because everyone’s eating disorder is different. Eating disorder rules vary SO much person to person, so naturally everyone’s recovery looks different.
The best part that I have found in trusting my intuition, is that I no longer feel like I have to worry about everyone else: I am taking care of me. Or at least, I’m trying to, because I do give into my eating disorder sometimes. And I know that when I do give in, I get this sick/guilty feeling that I went against what I know is healthy for me right now. As long as I focus on what my gut is telling me, it doesn’t matter if so-and-so is running 4 miles 6 days a week or if what’s-his-name is eating x amount of macros. Regardless, I do get so jealous when I see people doing things that I know are behaviors for me.
But at the end of the day, I trust that I know what is healthy for me. I can choose to go against that, too. And I still mess up every day. I have an intuition, and I am also human.
Everyone has an intuition. It may be quiet, it may be hard to trust right now. But it is there. And it is beautiful. The next time you find yourself wanting to seek advice from others, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself first. Because chances are, you probably already know the answer.
¹: Sullivan, P. (2002). Course and outcome of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. In Fairburn, C. G. & Brownell, K. D. (Eds.). Eating Disorders and Obesity (pp. 226-232). New York, New York: Guilford.
²:Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G. & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348-358.