Monday, June 12, 2017

One Year Later...

One year ago today I said goodbye to my family and friends and hopped on a plane to the middle of nowhere Indiana all by myself. I was scared but mainly I was tired. Too tired to grasp the concept of what was about to happen in my life. One year ago I stayed in a hotel room in the middle of Anderson, Indiana and cried myself to sleep, hoping the next day would bring relief. One year ago I was picked up by a complete stranger and driven to a house where I would spend the next 6 weeks fighting my eating disorder. I remember a lot about my time at Selah house. I remember the hot pink vitals gowns and the blind weights, cereal Wednesdays and four caffeine Fridays. I remember crying over a chicken sandwich and rejoicing over a completed plate. I remember 4th of July spent in the art room and my birthday spent in tears. I remember the tornado closet and the barn and the table games and the bathroom lines at 2:00am. And the night sweats. Ew I remember the night sweats. I remember laughing with my Selah Sisters and crying with the counselors. I learned a lot this past year. I've learned about myself and my friends and family, I've learned more about God's promises and my faith. Here's a short list of some of the things I have learned this past year. 
  1. Recovery is NOT a straight line. It's more of a roller coaster of successes and setbacks. Find people to love you through every stage. 
  2. People need people. I 100% could not have done this past year alone. 
  3. Let love in. This might be the biggest thing I learned. I can give freely with no problems, but when it comes to receiving, I seem to have a very hard time. Because of this, I've often found myself struggling to accept that God could love me in my mess. And yet the amazing RC's at Selah showed me a small glimpse of Gods love. While I was at Selah I was tired and terrified and cranky and full and uncomfortable in so many ways. I cried and complained and moaned and cried and cried and cried more than any one person over the age of 2 should do. I essentially threw daily temper tantrums. And what was I met with? Hugs. Numerous hugs. And support and words of affirmation and notes and prayers and true, genuine love during a time when I felt so hard to love. I like to imagine that's just a small glimpse of how God sees us. There is nothing we can do or say that can separate us from the love of God. 
  4. Be kind. You never know what battle people are facing. I was so lucky to hear so many girls amazing stories of courage and bravery and resilience. These girls started as strangers and ended as sisters and I feel so lucky to have shared a little bedroom and a dining room table and countless giggles and tears with these amazing ladies. 
  5. Lastly, always give thanks. I could not have made it through those 6 weeks and this entire past year without the love and kindness and tough love of Lori, Chanda, Shari, Mallory, Sarah Madison, Hayley, Kat, Tia, Katie, Rachel, Marcy, Z, Kadee, Todd, Shelby, Jess, Kristen, Sara, Chris Z., Alicia, Mel, Ann, Julie, Brooke, and Dr. Foreman, and all the Selah staff (including the horses!). To my Selah sisters, Hill, Lu, Jac, Muriel, Christine, Leeda, Becca, Michelle, Karie, Tina, Jackie, and Katherine: thank you for being my sisters during such a difficult transition in my life. Thank you for the porch chats and the prayers and listening and loving and laughing and crying with me. To my parents, thanks for letting me go and for listening to me cry on our nightly phone calls. And to my friends and family who have continued to support me in my ups and downs this past year. I'm forever grateful for your constant love, even when it's tough, and support. 
I honestly can't believe it's been a year since I began this journey. Here's to many more years of this crazy recovery journey. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Nurses Week 2017

Happy Nurses Week 2017 to all my fellow nurse friends! Being a nurse is the best and worst and hardest and most rewarding job possible. I go to work everyday in awe of the strength of both my coworkers and my patients. Now, I've only been a nurse for 3 years, & somehow it feels like I've been doing this my whole life. That being said, I think there comes a point in every nursing career where a switch is flipped and you change as a nurse and as a person. For me that moment came last summer, when I was on the other side of the nurse/patient relationship. 
A little under a year ago, I packed up and shipped off to Indiana for 6 weeks of treatment for an eating disorder that was slowly consuming my life. I was terrified to be so far from home and know no one. And yet as the big white van pulled up to the beautiful house, the first person to greet me wasn't a therapist or nutritionist or counselor, but a nurse. A nurse who held me as I shook and cried. A nurse that patiently waited for me to get vitals and a blind weight every morning. A nurse who took me to the bathroom and gave me my meds and answered my same silly questions everyday. It was the nurses who held my hand during panic attacks on the back porch. It was the nurses who assured me each morning that the scale was not my enemy. It was the nurses who kept an eye on my vitals and labs and kept me safe. It was also the nurses who cried with me and laughed with me and sat in the kitchen with me when meals felt too overwhelming. It was the nurses who were some of my biggest advocates. Every day for 6 weeks, a nurse was the first person I saw when I woke up in the morning and the last person I saw before bed at night. It was Erin who stayed awake the night of the tornado and it was Mel who played bananagrams with me on the porch. It was Michele who blended oils for relaxation and Julie who ate and prayed and did puzzles with me. And it was nurse Brooke who made my 6 weeks possible. It was Brooke who was there day in and day out. It was Brooke who was the perfect mixture of goofy and sassy and sweet and serious. Brooke ate meals with me and rejoiced in my successes and helped walk me through my failures. I specifically remember one day after I had a pass. I had made a mistake and was horribly embarrassed and ashamed. Brooke was the first person to talk to me. She did not yell or lecture or judge. She simply loved me through the process. Which is really all anyone can ask. 
So this nurses week, as a nurse and as a former patient, I really want to try to be more like nurse Brooke in my nursing practice. I want my kids to know I'm cheering them on no matter what. I want them to know I care, no matter what. I want them to know there's no failures or losses, only lessons and growth. I want to remember that as a nurse I have the potential to have a very large impact in someone's life at a time when they are most vulnerable. And I want my patients to know that although I can't always "fix" them, I can always love them through the process. 


So happy nurses week to all of the amazing nurses I'm blessed to work with and all of the incredible nurses who loved me through my process. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear ED

In honor of #NEDAweek, here is something I found from an old journal entry that I wanted to share:

July 25, 2012
"Dear ED-
Hello, it's me-Brooke. I know you know me. We know each other very well. In fact, most of the time I can't tell us apart. We have such a strange relationship. I want to keep you around but I don't want you to control  my head. I'm scared to let you go because I don't know who I am without you. I thought we were friends, but I'm finding out that you lie to me. I've always relied heavily on my feelings and been easily swayed by my emotions, but that's where you live. You live in my feelings and emotions and twist them into lies. Do you know how hard that is for me? I don't know how to not trust my emotions which means I don't know how to not trust you. I want to want you gone, but I'm scared of life without you. Doesn't make much sense, does it? I'm sad of life with you, but scared of life without you. I guess that makes me stuck."

Thankfully, 5 years later, I can say that I am in a different place. I have experienced who I am without ED. I have experienced tastes and glimpses of true freedom. I've become unstuck. And while recovery isn't linear, as Shauna Niequist says, "We don't arrive. But we can become. And that's the most hopeful thing I can think of."


NEDA week 2k17



February 26th-March 4th, 2017. It’s officially #NEDAweek. I’ve had so many conflicting thoughts about posting about this, but the theme of this years NEDA week is “It’s Time to Talk About It”, so here I am. Did you know that at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.? Did you know that eating disorders are more common than green eyes? It’s definitely time to talk about it. But why are we so afraid to talk about it? It’s a topic that brings about a lot of shame and hard emotions. However, Brene Brown says that shame cannot survive being spoken. So yes, it’s time to talk about it. Because we all have a story and all of our stories are valuable. We all have things we are good at and things we struggle with and things that make our hearts smile and things that make us weep. And that’s the beauty of life. (Disclaimer: Recovery is one big Brene Brown quote). Anyways…Brene Brown also so wisely said, “the irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable. But our wholeness, even our wholeheartedness, actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences.” Isn’t this so scary and so true? Being vulnerable is so hard. We refrain from telling our stories for fear of critique and judgement. And yet isn’t that when we feel the closest and most connected to others? When they are open and raw and honest and emotional with their stories and experiences. We are all works in progress and we are all in this life together.

National Eating disorder Recovery Tattoo Design:
So this NEDA week, even if you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, there are still ways to be participate. Be open and honest with your story, ask for help when you need it, take time to relax and take care of yourself, eat a healthy breakfast, exercise because you love your body, get off the scale, smile at yourself, really listen to others as they share their life experiences, embrace your story and know that you are exactly who and where you are supposed to be, and love well, including yourself. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Thrill of Hope


The thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices…”

A line from my favorite Christmas song. I listen to this song on repeat all year round and not until recently has it struck me how beautiful that line is. The THRILL of HOPE. It reminds me of when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. Never had I had such a hope, an excitement, a joy, a thrill…that the next day would bring magic and presents and laughter and joy. I would have such hope that the next day would be the best day, that sometimes I would have trouble sleeping at night.
When is the last time you felt that childlike hope? Now as I’m older, I still hope; I just hope for different things now. I hope for peace and for joy and for laughter and health. I hope for feelings and memories and experiences rather than things. And ultimately, like Psalm 33:20 says, “we wait in hope for the Lord”.  What would it look like if I carried that same thrill of hope I had as a child with me now? And why don’t we? Yes, life might have dealt us some hard cards and the things that were once magical, like Santa, no longer have the same magic. But there are so many things to still be hopeful for. So this Christmas, my hope is that you hope. And that you never give up the thrill of hope.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Little Reminders...

The Cost

A while ago I was given the following assignment:

            "Please write a letter to an adolescent girl who is struggling with body image concerns about the costs associated with pursuing the thin ideal..."
The assignment was daunting and overwhelming and I don't like writing off of  prompt. However, I was told to look at a picture of my younger self and think of what I wanted to say to her. Putting it into that perspective allowed the words to flow. The holidays can be a stressful time, and with the New Year and all of the resolutions that follow, I want to share the letter, for all of the young girls. And older women. And boys. And humans in general. 

Dear little me- That feeling in the pit of your stomach and on the back of your neck when you're called on in class or asked to participate? That is anxiety. And you will face anxiety provoking situations for the rest of your life. The key is to participate in life anyways. You can't stand on the sidelines and wait for the feeling to pass, because avoidance only gives power to the anxiety. So dress up for spirit week, participate in field day, speak up. I know you don't like people looking at you and I know that you're very aware of your body. Body awareness is not always a bad thing-as long as your remember that you are more than your body. Appreciate your body for as long as you can. Be aware that you have a body and that it's capable of many things. You may grow up hearing "oh you're so tiny, so cute, so little". And you might be. But you are so much more than that.
You are a culmination of many things. You are made up of your memories and experiences, what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. You are made up of your favorite foods and the songs you like to sing and your plans for the future. You are the light that shines in your eyes when you get excited about something. You are made up of your favorite subject in school and your intelligence that helps you to understand these things. You are a child of Christ and you are made up of so many wonderful things.
There are also so many things that you are not. You are not your pants size, or the number on a scale, or the amount of money in your bank account. You are more than the number of friends you have or the sports you play.
I know this may sound very easy right now, but it does get harder. Appreciate your family for all they do for you, and understand and realize that they are not perfect, and neither are you. So as life throws you challenges, face them head on. But please. Hold yourself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Because there is no such thing as perfect and the pursuit of the unattainable comes at a high price. When trying to become "perfect", you may lose yourself and lose control. I know you may feel like you can handle it and like you have it all under control, and you might, for a little while. But in the pursuit of trying to become someone you're not, you will lose friends and time and happiness and money. And eventually the thing you so desire to control will end up controlling you. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Yeses and Nos.


Happy November, yall. Can you believe the year is almost over? (Thank God). This month I am learning to put the NO in November. Too often, we try to please everyone, help everyone, do everything, and it turns out to be at our own expense. I’m sure we all can think of a time we said yes to something we really didn’t want to. We all do it. And it’s okay. Sometimes we have to say yes to ourselves before we can say yes to others.
5 months ago today I said the biggest yes of my life and entered the doors of Selah House. In saying yes, I also had to say my biggest nos. I said no to my job. I said no to my friends. To my family. To my dog. To my responsibilities. To my phone and e-mail and texts and social media. I said no to friend’s weddings and people’s birthdays. I said no to summer vacation plans. And as hard as it was, in saying all of these no’s, for the first time in a long time, I was saying yes to myself. To life and courage and happiness and freedom. I was saying yes to myself so I could come home and say fuller and more whole hearted yeses to my friends and family.
What I didn’t realize is that I didn’t just have to say yes to myself on June 13th. Saying yes to myself is something that has to happen again and again every single day. Outside of the Selah bubble, there is real life and there is responsibilities and jobs and people asking you a million different things. And if you want to be able to fully engage in life and make your yeses count, you have to first say yes to yourself. And sometimes saying yes to yourself means saying no to others. And at first it feels horribly selfish and wrong, especially if you’re a people pleaser like me. However, I have learned that in taking care of yourself, you are able to make your yeses and no’s mean more to others. You are able to more freely give and to say yes without obligation and no without guilt. So one of the biggest lessons I learned this summer is this: That love you keep trying to give everyone else? You actually have to practice it on yourself first. Because as they say, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”