Thousand-Word Images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Even if they are only each worth fifty, I thought I’d share some photos to sum up some of the summer and my experiences of 2018, thus far. It has been a good year, full of growth, change, adjustment, and acceptance. Most of all, it has been a happy six months.

I am blessed. I hope others have the opportunity to live life this fully, as well.

Here are the keys to my happiness. Perhaps they will guide others to find their own. Continue reading “Thousand-Word Images”

Making Ends Eat

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I can’t believe it’s August 30th.

Over the past month, so much has happened, it’s hard to know where to begin. When I think back to my last post, I was in such a fragile state, it was truly a tipping point. In the actions that were to follow, I would determine to which side I would fall. Thankfully, I fell forward.

When I discharged from residential, I wasn’t sure of anything except for how badly I wanted to move on and how hard I would try. I was not aware of my own strengths or how things would unravel. Over the past month, I have learned my strength in completely new ways. In the past month, I overcame some of the most challenging moments and, each time, I grew. I’ve always been opposed to the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but the sentiment that some of the most difficult obstacles can be some of the greatest growing points has proven true for me as of late.

It is within this past month that I really believe I can say I’ve let go. I’ve let go of so much of the rigidity that has been the place where my disorder has lived, even at times when my behaviors have been at bay. I have let myself throw up my hands and give in to the moments that felt like they would destroy me and have learned that the resistance was where those moments were gaining power- that all that needed to be done to move forward was to accept and to experience. I have learned that no feeling will kill me, it is my reaction that will. I have seen that I can stay safe if I protect myself through my own love and an unwillingness to betray myself or my values.

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I have done this by going through my step-down process with a determined attitude to do whatever it took to live freely and, in doing so, an ability to take the lead of professionals and comply with rules or take advice with which I might otherwise disagree. I have given myself the benefit of the doubt, I have given myself chances to prove I can be better, I have surrounded myself with love, compassion, and hope, and I have taken each moment as it comes. I have made mistakes, and I have taken the next best action. I have pushed through the hard, and looked out for and sought out the good. I have become a puppy’s godmother, gotten a tattoo, and visited home. I have been honest, open, and willing, and that’s all it’s taken.

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Sometimes things are really, really hard, until they’re not.

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This past month, I discharged from day treatment, visited California, and moved back to college. Being back on campus, I am now at home base. Here, I realize all that has transpired since I last resided at BC. It’s heart-breaking in all ways. It’s devastating in some- to see how paralyzed I once was and how quickly that occurred- and it’s also overwhelmingly joyful- to realize how much one can evolve and find peace once again.

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By no means am I done. I am working. But, it is because of all of the work that I have already done that I am able to do this work. I can cry and laugh and sit and connect. I can see where I need to improve and all of the areas in which I have already surpassed my greatest expectations. I am able to step back and start conversations about thoughts I left a long time ago, and I have room to develop new thoughts that spark new conversations. Where I left off, I begin again, with greater tools and a new perspective and awareness.

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I am proud of myself- for this past month, and the ability to be writing this post from my dorm room, where I can say that I am safe, and am learning to be less afraid.

Cheers!

Alexandra

Nom Nom Nomaste

Yesterday, I arrived back in Boston from my Spring Break vacation which I was lucky enough to have spent back in California. Though trading an 89 degree beach day for the snow was not easy, the time I had there filled me with a new set of fantastic memories, connecting relationships, and beautiful reminders of why I stay in the fight and choose life.

Feelings are often beyond words, and all of those I experienced keep flooding me in waves of nostalgia. It’s the feelings of familiar faces, stabilizing embraces, and tasting new flavors of gelato, the moments spent under the sun and the peace that comes with feeling safe and in place in the universe that reminded me that living is greater than existing. How can I choose to shut myself off from the possibilities I can’t even see?

So, while they’re still fresh in my memory, here are some of the snippets of my life this past week…

There was a reunion with one of my best friends from high school.

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And so many with my pals from my time in LA.

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I got to learn some new yoga tricks

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And spend time under the sun soaking up all that Vitamin D.

11015115_10205518744068593_5774142052954585958_n There was lots of gelato

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And then more gelato.

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I got to see so many fun things with so many fun people.

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There was a puppy

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And shopping.

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The weather was phenomenal (minus a couple of days of rain, but we’ll overlook that)

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And so were the views.

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But, above all else, I felt connected. To myself and those around me.

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Sometimes the busy-ness of our surroundings can cause a blindness to occur, where the road we are on is forgotten with the fixation on where we are going. I was reminded of the beauty that can come with awareness- that looking around not only enhances the journey, but also allows us to make the necessary shifts that bring us to the proper destination.

I hope to maintain the peace and happiness, and set sails for the countless opportunities I have yet to come across in my day-to-day life.

Cheers!

Alexandra

I NEDA Say This

In a world where media plays such an important role in forming perceptions and schemas for understanding, we are often fragmented by the ways it misleads and distorts. In the pursuit of shiny things, I have been trying to focus on what is right. I’m a bit of an empath- hard-wired to feel in certain ways and sensitive to the downfalls and destructive qualities of an environment that strongly affects my nature. As aware as I am to that which seems scary or upsetting, I am able to pick up on and really embrace that which is extraordinary. As vulnerable as I am to feeling the pain of my surroundings, I am equally as susceptible to be entirely moved by a kind deed or a sunny day. Just as much as the recent, incredibly unusual snowfall has pushed against my mood, the idea of warm weather and lying on the beach literally makes me smile and feel giddy.

With these shiny reflections in conjunction with an understanding of the role of the media, National Eating Disorder Awareness week has struck me this year as a significant and outstanding example of the opportunities presented to make that role advantageous to our society. With social networking and mass marketing at such a peak, the platforms given to the public on which ideas are spread is key to our growth. If we sit back and shake our heads at the distortions spread, without equally doling out our truth, we submit to the downfall of humanity. We let the dark win. Paradoxically, if we find these moments as opportunities, we allow a whole new level of knowledge to find its place in the minds of the widespread readers that are literally at the tips of each and every one of our fingers. We have the power to make it shiny.

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So, after that rant, I’m taking NEDA week as a chance to spread my truths. It’s unfortunate that what can often be spread on this week are potentially triggering posts with sick pictures and false messages, but what needs to be heard are the facts, which are so, so important and so rarely talked about beyond the eating disorder community.

The fact of the matter is that eating disorders are devastating illnesses that have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Yet, every time a person dies of an eating disorder, it is a preventative death. Recovery, though it takes time, commitment, and lots of people to support the individual on the path, is 100% possible and necessary in order to survive and truly experience life. Eating disorders are often seen as attention-driven, about “control”, and image-oriented, yet the truth is that they are complex mental illnesses that derive more from places where self-worth, self-love, and self-acceptance are lacking. The journey to heal oneself, thus, cannot be measured only through the numbers on a scale, nor by any other physical standard. Eating disorders are biopsychosocial disorders, stemming from various environmental, biological, and mental factors and triggers and, therefore, the road to recovery must be holistic and take into account the progress the person makes in all levels of their life.

There is no perfect path, imperfection is a quality that must be accepted in this process, and it applies to the recovery process, as well. One cannot foresee where these roads will take us, and often the various sections of healing do not happen at the same pace or time. Physical, mental, and emotional transformations happen over time and, though they go hand-in-hand in their necessity, are not always in similar places of evolution. Bodies do not always tell our stories. Eating disorders can’t always be seen in a person’s weight. Similarly, when a person is weight-restored, their mind and thoughts may not be healthy, yet. Though each piece takes its own amount of time, and there is no timeline for recovery; though each each person’s eating disorder looks different, as does their recovery; though there is no one fix for all, one thing that is true for every person with an eating disorder is that they can get better.

Just as it is so important to spread awareness and share the truth, it is so crucial to keep hope. When a mental illness appears, it can often feel hopeless, but treatment is necessary and the exposure and understanding is the only way to get through to the other side. The fact of the matter is that statistics prove that each person who reads this knows someone, whether they realize it or not, who suffers from an eating disorder. It is a widespread disorder and it does not discriminate. Eating disorders flourish in secrecy, but words are powerful and recovery is real.

NEDA week is a time to learn, a time to exercise our ability to share and express, and it is a time to see the truth. Every day is a chance to change and change is possible. I’ve seen it and I’m working towards it.

Cheers!

Alexandra

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