Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lentil Soup for the Soul

this isn't really about lentil soup. it's kind of a chicken soup for the soul entry, but i changed the title because as you know, chicken soup ain't vegan. this blog entry is dedicated to La Belle Vegan. i've visited her blog and am inspired by her bravery to discuss that part of her life with the world.

there's a topic that i don't think i've ever covered on this specific blog: my eating disorder. and why would i? that's a really ugly part of my life i never want any of you to see, and who wants to read about that subject on a gourmet food blog?

i've been in remission from bulimia for a number of years, an incredible feat. according to a clinician i spoke with years ago, many people with EDs have periods of on again/off again abstinence throughout their lives because food issues doesn't work like other addiction illnesses. one can live without booze and drugs, but one can't be food-free and survive. it just isn't possible. so "success" in the eyes of many clinicians is to get their clients to practice harm reduction. for example, if someone throws up 10 times a day, they want to work on getting that person to take it down a notch to 9, then 8, then 7...and so on until they get down to 1 time a day. then that moves onto 1 time per week. that turns into 1 time per month...you get the idea, right?

i started the b/p cycle at the age of 13. i never had a good relationship with food. i was a fat kid and started my first diet when i was 9 or 10. when my disease manifested, i was hospitalized for 3 months in a mental institution when i was 17. i still didn't stop. i just became more discreet about my behavior.

anyway, i don't want to get too deep with the details, because i'm still pretty ashamed of that part of my life. for a while i discussed this issue as a subject in my artwork, but i stopped for some reason, i'm guessing because it got too uncomfortable to dig so deep. shelby gave me courage to discuss it again. i think of it this way: if our blogs can help any of you out there that struggle with your body, mind, and spirit--well, i want to help you. so, i'm gonna let you in on what has helped me over the years:

1. i don't skip meals, ever.

2. i don't diet, ever.

3. i don't engage in fasts. this can be hard around certain jewish holidays. what i do instead is a modified fast with juices and liquids. i do give myself permission to eat if i don't think i can handle it. one can break a jewish law to preserve a life-(including one's own), and i consider my illness to be a life or death matter.

4. i got involved with the fat acceptance movement. what?!?!?! yes, the fat acceptance movement. EDs aren't so much about food or being fat as much as being in control. i learned a lot about myself from reading the book Fat?So! by Marilyn Wann. i even got involved with some message boards for a while. i learned that my fear of fat and fat hatred was the fuel that kept the fire of my illness going. i had to face that fear head on and work on it. i still have some fat hatred (mostly with myself) and still have work to do. i know this for sure: no one should ever have to apologize for their size. i had to quit making assumptions about people based on how they look. being fat ain't a death sentence and being thin doesn't guarantee a clean bill of health.

5. accept that once you start eating, you're going to gain weight. duh.

6. going vegan truly repaired my relationship with food. making the connection between an animal and how that animal sacrifices its life for you by existing as a #6 on a fast food menu is humbling. i really respect the food and what it does for me. i believe in holistic veganism; that is, that my veganism doesn't stop with my eating and cosmetic choices. it's about being kind to me and other human beings.

7. i had to find people i could trust to talk to. some people just won't get that you have an ED. they'll try to tell you what they think is best for you and never realize they're hurting you. i only have a few select people i discuss this subject with.

8. i had to get professional help. ask the clinician if they have experience working with ED. many say they do, but they don't. therapy will take a long time.

9. i have to get exercise. i've never been much of an athlete, but i love to work out. i have a goal of doing 2-4 30 minute workouts using weight bearing exercise every week.

10. i don't believe what i see in the mirror. ED messes with your eyesight, ya heard? when i start to go with, "oh i'm so...." i stop because what i'm seeing is an illusion. all those years of puking messed with my brain.

11. i had to quit lying about everything. utilizing point #8 helped with this.

12. if i find i'm super emotional, i don't eat alone.

thanks again shelby.


Anonymous said...

Aww, I'm so touched by this post. I'm glad I inspired you to come out with this post because it helps me to see someone else so much healthier and it will help a lot of girls everywhere. You are so sweet and I love your helpful tips, some of them I can really relate to and some are things I strive for. You are awesome! =)


pixiepine said...

I have never had an ED, but many friends have. I can comment on your thoughts on veganism, as I feel the same way. Veganism has helped me see everything in a healthier way. It really is about respect for yourself, animals, the environment...and it certainly keeps me on track in terms of treating other people with respect too. You are brave for sharing, and it makes a difference!

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

P.S. I LOVE the name of your blog!

Your Humble Narrator said...

Thanks for posting this, J. One thing: I remember when your writing used to be ... pretty focused on EDs. My work's been similarly focused at times (on other things, though). What I've found is that after a while, I just got tired of writing about "it" over and over, because I just wasn't breaking any new ground. I'm not even talking about published (or even public) work. I've quit journaling before and once quit writing altogether because I just. wasn't. moving. forward. Or felt like I wasn't. And that really bummed me out.

But eventually I'd start writing again, cuz it IS a habit, dammit, and a good one. And, like ya do, I'd start up about the same old shit again. But something was different. With a little time and space away from the horseshit, I had better perspective and felt like I could actually bring what I was wallowing in to something approaching completion. I think I have blogged about this: eventually the personal pain becomes "just" another personal story, because you've sloughed off enough of the pain to make the telling (and retelling) less painful. Or at least I did.

So maybe at some point, you'll feel like incorporating EDs into your work again and it won't be such a hard, thankless experience. It'll actually be helpful, for you and anyone who experiences it. Kinda like in this entry.

Anonymous said...

I admire your honesty. It's really cool to hear you've been able to overcome through the years. Your tips are great! :)