Your Body is in Love with You

by Lindsey 2 Comments

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Your body is in love with you.”

Not exactly what I expected to hear my teacher say during a power flow yoga class. You see, up until a little over a year ago, I swore I would never do “normal” yoga. “Normal” meant anything other than Bikram yoga, a style of yoga that is practiced in 110 degree heat and is a series of 26 different postures, each performed twice. In my head, any other yoga was a studio filled with skinny, pretty girls in matching Lululemon clothes, who drank green juice from Whole Foods instead of eating.

Fast forward to now. I no longer do Bikram yoga. Somewhere between injuring my back pretty badly, constantly being dehydrated and drained from this practice, and laying on my mat in class dreaming of Gatorade; I realized I HATED Bikram yoga. To be fair, I do think Bikram is a great practice, but not for just anyone. Especially someone suffering from an eating disorder where a large part of the battle is about over exercise.

Being the compulsive exerciser that I am, I had to find something else. Running was out- after 2 knee surgeries, surgery for acute compartment syndrome in my leg,, and an ankle reconstruction, my disordered brain knew that running wasn’t the best choice. What if I crippled myself and couldn’t exercise…oh my God, I would become a fat old woman. Randomly, I discovered a yoga studio a few miles from my house with a “30 days for $30” deal, and off I went.

I firmly believe God has such better plans for us than we have for ourselves. This new yoga practice shattered my narrow-minded ideas of what yoga was.. I was floored. I walked into Epic Yoga last November, somewhat convinced yoga would actually be good for me, but mostly looking for a way to burn calories and make myself feel better about eating. Not for one second did I imagine the healing, peace, and joy it would bring me.

My body is in love with me. Despite the years of abuse and overuse inflicted upon it, my body still loves me. Despite my deep hatred for every inch of myself and what extremes I went to in order to change, my body still loves me. “Your body is in love with you,” my teacher said, “think about it. Your lungs still breathe when you’re upside down. When you get tired, your heart beats faster to pump more blood and give you more oxygen”. This is extremely humbling to someone who has spent a good chunk of their life ruining themselves.

Yes, when I practice yoga, my eating disorder still gets satisfaction that I’m burning calories, etc. But with yoga, I have slowly been able to drop some of the most difficult lies my eating disorder has told me. I believe that strong is better than sick. I have to be nourished in order to maintain my practice. I suffer from hypoglycemia as a result to long term restriction, and it only took me one time of nearly passing out in the beginning of class, and needing the teacher to open a protein bar for me because my hands were too shaky. As I sat there on the floor trying to clear the black from my vision and eating the bar, I knew what my body was trying to tell me. Healthy is better than hungry. It takes far more strength for me to eat a difficult meal than it does to restrict. When I choose to use behaviors, I am choosing what is easy. In recovery, what is easy is not usually right. Yoga is teaching me to drop what I know, including expectations of myself. There is beauty in letting go. It creates more space for things I love. It makes me give myself grace. It helps me discover more of who I am. My body is in love with me, and that includes my brain. Yoga has helped me stop looking at my body as the enemy; as something that must be manipulated and controlled so that I feel a false sense of safety. I am learning to breathe, and without breath, there is too much room for the negative chatter of my eating disorder. After all, listening to it has never brought me any real happiness or results. Yoga is teaching me equanimity- the art of meeting life as it meets me. Particularly in recovery.

Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live. It is the home of your soul. It is a vessel of life; a life that is meant to be truly lived, and shared with others. Your body is in love with you. Every heartbeat, every breath, every cut that heals, every emotion that your brain feels. Your body is constantly working to keep you alive and healthy- give it some help.

My Story

by Lindsey 0 Comments

Welcome to my blog! I want to start off by introducing myself. I’m Lindsey. I started this blog in hopes of sharing my story with others who are suffering from mental illnesses. WHAT? Yeah, I know, people don’t talk about mental illness. That’s crazy talk, it’s all in their head, you choose how you feel, etc. But the fact is; mental illness is more common than you think. My story deals more specifically with eating disorders and anxiety, and my ongoing recovery from an eating disorder. Through my recovery, I have met so many amazing souls, and the one thing we all seemed to have in common is SECRECY. My eating disorder, my secret…if people know, what will they do? Judge me. Laugh at me. Think I’m stupid. Shame me. Not take me seriously. Distance themselves from me. Talk about me behind my back. Love me less, or, not at all. All of those things are legitimate fears a person has if they have a secret. I mean, there’s a reason why it’s a secret! Here is the thing though- secrets keep you sick. They absolutely do. That is why I’m choosing to speak out. My eating disorder does not define me. I am so much more than a diagnosis. I want to help break the stigma of mental illness. I want to help girls and boys stop shaming their bodies, and each others. I want people to know and believe they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So I speak up. And I take away the power of my secrets.

I’ve struggled from disordered eating since I was a teenager. I played competitive sports growing up and was also a college athlete. I did not receive any form of help for my eating disorder until I was 26. TWENTY-SIX. There are a hundred reasons why, but I won’t go into them. All I know is that 10 plus years was too long to not have help. By the time I started outpatient therapy, my disordered eating and exercising habits were so deeply ingrained in me, I didn’t know there was life outside them. The very first dietician I saw, I immediately hated, and found another. Seven months later after quite some time in outpatient treatment and weeks in residential, I found myself back inside that woman’s office because my current dietician took maternity leave. I will never forget what happened next.

The dietician took a long look at me. “If someone had told me that I’d see you again in my office, I wouldn’t have believed them. When I met you months ago, you weren’t really there. I could see it in your eyes; you were so lost. And now you’re sitting here, and your eyes look alive now. I can’t believe it.”

It was in that moment I realized eating disorders take everything. Mine had taken my identity, the life in my eyes, my voice. My eating disorder had taken my life while still leaving my body physically here on this earth. Life with an eating disorder isn’t living, it’s existing. I know that to be true with every cell of my body because I spent so much time drifting through life. It breaks my heart. I regret it. I have little to no memory of what others thought were the best times of my life. I was there, but it was just my shell. I had myself fooled, and everyone else.

I checked myself into residential treatment when I was 26. I was diagnosed with EDNOS- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Basically, people like me didn’t fall into the box of strictly anorexic or bulimic from the diagnostic manual THAT WAS CREATED TO BE USED TO BILL INSURANCE COMPANIES. I spent the first year or so of my recovery feeling like I failed- my eating disorder didn’t even really have a name. It was a category. I used EDNOS as the blanket that was thrown over my behaviors that weren’t “bad enough” to be diagnosed with what society is familiar with. I discharged from residential with a whole new outlook on life, but it wasn’t long before I relapsed completely. It takes more than 7 weeks of residential or 9 months of therapy to unlearn things you’ve been doing your entire teenage and adult life.

I could go on about the chapter of relapse in my life, but honestly, who wants to read a depressing post like that? I spent 4 months in various levels of care, and was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. My refusal to gain weight, see myself rationally, or be in a good state of health took its toll. February 14 will mark 2 years of me being intensive treatment free. I am not eating disorder or anxiety free, but I am more solid in recovery than I ever imagined possible. I call this freedom “life in color” because that’s really the best way I know how to describe it. Life controlled by my eating disorder was black and white, with no passion or sparkle. Life in color…is just that. Things have meaning, I have deep relationships, I have found things I really love, and I am happy.

So, my blog. Beast Mode. Name courtesy of my brother, who told me, “you want to name it something people will remember!” I hope that by being vulnerable and authentic, I can show others that it is OK to be your true self. It is OK to be a little bit broken and have problems. It is OK to not just share your highs in life, but your lows too. Not everyone that knows me has an idea of what I’ve been through, and maybe you’re one of those people learning about it for the first time. I am no longer ashamed of my past and I speak up, because in that, my secrets lose power. There is also such a need for HOPE in the recovery community. I want to show hope. Recovery is MESSY. But it is possible, and people who are suffering deserve to know that.