Q+A Part 2
Firstly, I want to thank all of you who submitted questions!
Q+A blog posts are actually some of the most fun posts to write. I speak from experience, and strive to help people gain a greater understanding into anorexia and eating disorders in general. However, I also aim to include some questions that can feel relatable to a lot of you out there. Education is a huge part of my life, but I also hope to push the boundaries from solely academics to spread awareness about health (and mental health specifically). Let me know what you think!
When did your anorexia start in your life?
It was the summer between first and second year of college. I had finished my exams for the semester and was left with a lot of time on my hands.
How old were you?
I had just turned 20. To be honest, I am thankful the illness didn't hit me in my teens. As hard as it is to deal with anorexia, I can only imagine that it might have been so much harder to manage in high school.
What set it off in your life?
I was about to start my 6th year of lifeguarding (still the highlight of my life), and I decided I wanted to "get in shape". Not necessarily lose weight, but become stronger. Faster. Have more endurance.
So, I started to run. I had always been a runner; I was on the high school team in addition to a club team. Running gave me an inexplicable high; when my feet were hitting the pavement, I felt on top of the world. The problem was, I started to eat less, too. I remember skipping breakfast one time (I was someone who always ate breakfast) and thinking: "this feels kind of good". So, breakfast was eventually eliminated altogether.
From that day on, I began to eat less and less. Meals started to resemble snacks, and my eating habits were all over the place. I was not eating enough to compensate for the energy I was expending while exercising. It all went downhill from there.
How do you feel about therapy?
I swear by it! I have been in therapy for ten years now (since the start of my eating disorder), and I hope to keep with it for a long time. I was lucky enough to come across a therapist that I trust with my life. I tell her everything, despite how embarrassed or ashamed I am (after all, anorexia can lead to some nasty truths). Talking with someone allows me to release all the anxiety and tension and stress I accumulate, which prevents "combustion" or an "explosion" on my part. Sometimes, in therapy, I am able to make sense of my irrational thoughts; where they stem from and how to challenge them. My therapist gives me "a reality check" every time I step into her office. She is able to calm me down in moments of panic and offers useful suggestions, usually accompanied by a plan of attack. Therapy is such an integral part of my life and I very clearly see the value of it.
If you have any additional or specific questions about therapy, don't hesitate to message or email me!
How do you deal with not exercising in treatment?
The million dollar question.
I have had moments where I use exercise while in treatment and moments where I refrain. The truth is, not being "active" is a HUGE challenge for me, especially throughout the weight gain period. I used hyperactivity as a way to compensate for the calories I was taking in. Exercise also served to calm my anxiety. My thoughts went a little like this: "do 100 sit-ups and then it will be okay if you eat dinner". Totally not healthy.
If you are headed into treatment, and worried about exercise, I suggest that you make a commitment to yourself from Day 1. Tell yourself: no matter how hard it is, I will not be active. When my brain tells me to move, I will sit.
Don't be afraid to ask for help, either. I wish I had been more honest when I was active in treatment. Be open with your treatment team, and tell them when you feel the most vulnerable. Let them in and let them help you.
Do you eat healthy and organic?
No - well, kind of "no". Definitely not organic. I don't have any strong beliefs with regards to organic vs. non-organic foods, other than the fact that organic food items are usually more expensive! Living alone, paying rent and bills, I have to watch my money when it comes to grocery shopping, which usually means avoiding the organic section. While eating organic is probably better for me in the long run, I can't afford to buy organic at this point in my life.
To the question that asks: "do you eat healthy?" - I can't really answer that. The reason being: everyone's definition of healthy is different. What is healthy for me may not be healthy for you, and vice-versa. I don't watch the sugar content or the fat content of the foods I consume, and on the flip side, I don't watch for more fibre or more protein or more vitamins and minerals. But truth be told, I AM usually aware of the caloric content of foods. And while my diet may not be high-calorie all the time, it is definitely not for health-conscious reasons.
So, to answer your question, I don't eat organic, and I don't really eat healthy. I just... "eat" - although I still have work to do on that last part! ;)
I live alone too. Do you have any tips for meals or grocery shopping?
I've been living alone for a year and a half now and let me tell you, it has been a learning experience ever since. I try and go to the grocery store only once a week, because I end work at either 6pm or 8pm and I am usually too tired to go shopping after.
If you have access to a car, or if you go grocery shopping with someone who drives, I suggest you buy all your fruits and veggies for the week that day. Because let's be honest, they are damn heavy! I try and buy my produce at the little markets on my street because fruits especially can get wildly expensive. Don't be shy to look at what's on sale, too, and plan your fruit/veggie choices around the sales!
I try and meal prep (basic, I know) but I SWEAR it is a life-saver. Sunday is my day off so I get everything ready for the week; I cook, bake, and chop everything I can and store it all in containers in my fridge. Come morning time, I can easily mix and match whatever I prepared in NO TIME AT ALL.
And hey, let's not underestimate the value of a grocery list! Going to the grocery store only once a week is seriously considered a SKILL in my books, and while I sometimes hate writing things down, it does prevent me from making multiple trips.
So: choose a couple of recipes to prepare. Make a grocery list. Visit the grocery store with someone who has access to a car. MEAL PREP. And voila, you'll be all set.
Do you still weigh yourself?
Yes. But, it is a behaviour I am trying to stop. My therapist keeps track of my weight, and I am trying to get into the habit of only weighing myself when I see her. But, having a scale at home makes that incredibly difficult. I have given her my scale in the past, but then I panicked and bought a new one. Talk about a waste of money! I am not ready to give up my scale just yet, but, I am working towards it. Because let's be honest, I am never, ever, happy after I weigh myself, no matter the result.
There's a quote I saw that's kind of "dark and twisted yet humorous at the same time" that says:
"Why weigh yourself when you could set yourself on fire then roll in broken glass and feel the same way?"
Food for thought.
I'm scared to start a blog. Do you have any advice?!
Go for it! But also know that the timing has to be right. I contemplated blogging for a long time before I actually did it. I decided to really give it a go the week before I headed to inpatient treatment in New York, because I wanted a resource for my friends and family to use to stay updated with my progress, since I wouldn't have access to my phone.
I suggest you come up with some content before you let your blog go "live". Have a clear purpose or theme in mind (i.e. fashion, lifestyle, food, photography, travel, health & wellness), and think long and hard about your vision. Know that there is a time commitment associated with blogging - most readers are looking for someone who posts regularly and consistently. But blogging has been such an incredible hobby for me and has allowed me to connect with so many different people across the world - I wouldn't have it any other way!
Not ED-related but: what is your favourite perfume?
Great question! Currently I'm obsessed with "Flowerbomb" by Viktor Rolf.
Do people ever criticize you or your blog?
Haha. Yes. I have to say that 99% of the time, people have been very sweet and encouraging when I post things. Messages from all of you seriously warm my heart and make me SO HAPPY. It's not always easy to devote time to blogging but then I remember all of you out there, and the whole process becomes so motivating.
I have received a message saying that I am only blogging for attention, and that I should stop what I'm doing because it's "f*cked up". I actually wrote a whole blog post about it but never put it up... maybe I should?
Regardless, most of the time people are so receptive to what I do, but there will always be a couple of people out there who feel insecure and want to bring you down. As long as your goals and your purpose are clear, it becomes easier to disregard what they say/write and focus on you. And that's what I'm doing.
There you have it! I said this last time, but please never feel shy to send me your questions, whether it's through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Instagram, or Facebook. For those of you who don't know, I also have a Facebook page devoted to my blog! Just search "Recovery By Meghan" and give the page a like ;)
Happy New Year to all of my readers. May 2018 be the best one yet.