How I Got Help…

[[Side Note:

Well, I suppose it’s more like how I was forced to get help, and then ultimately ask for it from there.

I made myself sick, starving myself, for 4 months before someone finally said something to me.  People said a few things to me, pointing out how I had changed in the past few months, but no one ever really asked what was going on.

Then one spring afternoon in February, after returning to college from winter break, my hall mate Jess asked me to join her for lunch in her room.  As I sat on the floor with her, meddling with my no-condiments added veggie whole wheat no crust sandwich and apple, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “I’m worried about you and we need to do something about it.  I can see what you’re doing, I know that you’re not eating and running to much; you’ve lost so much weight since I first met you during welcome week and I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t tell you that we need to get you some help.”  And so we did.

That very same day she walked me over to the school counseling office.  I was horrified and shaking in my boots.  I didn’t know what to do.  Jess walked up the counter, the guy behind it asked how he could help us and Jess said, “ We, she, needs to see a counselor.”  He asked, “Would you like to see someone today or later?”  She said “Now”, I said “Later.”  Obviously I lost.

I met my counselor for the first time that day, and was terrified beyond belief.  First off, it was a man.  I was not feeling very comfortable with the fact that I was going to have to spill my life story to this stranger, this MAN.  Not that I have anything against men, I just think women can be easier to talk to sometimes.  Anyhow, I sat in his office, we introduced ourselves and when he asked me what I was here for, all I could do was CRY.  I cried so hard I couldn’t breath.  It was a miracle I made it out of there without my eyes coming out of my head (haha).

That was the first set of helping hands I had in my recovery.  As hard as it was to talk to my counselor, I knew it was going to be even harder to have to tell my parents.

I had so many mixed feelings about telling them.  Mostly I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been able to take care of myself.  I felt like I hadn’t been a good daughter, that I was a weak older sister to my younger twin brothers who looked up to me.  But of course that wasn’t the case.

I remember telling both of my parents about my ED.  I had gone with my Dad on one of his weekend walks up to his favorite bagel shop, 5th Ave., just up the road.  We were talking about a bunch of things, nothing I can remember specifically, and I don’t remember how it came up, but I told him I was seeing a counselor at school and getting help for a problem I was having with food.  Of course him and my mother had noticed how much weight I had lost and believed me when I told them I was just stressed and working out more…but was grateful that I was telling him the truth.

I remember feeling relief, knowing that my father knew my terrible secret.  I even remember making it to the bagel shop and having a bagel and regular snapple (not diet!!!) with him while we sat there and continued to talk.  Then the was the next fear and dread about having to tell my mother.

We got home from our walk and with just a look, I know my mom knew something had happened while we were out.  I sat her down at the dinner and told her I had to tell her something.  The truth spilled out and I cried, and they were there with open arms and all the support I could ever ask for.

Since then I have told many friends, other family members, and even complete strangers.  I am not ashamed of my ED like I used to be (I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word “eating disorder” or “anorexia”) and am comfortable talking about it, what it did to me, how I reacted and the steps I have taken in order to heal.

One big factor in my lack of asking for help came from feeling like a failure.  But that wasn’t all.  I was also afraid of being a burden.  I was afraid of bothering people with what seemed like a petty and selfish problem, but what I know now is that is completely FALSE.  Our family, friends and other loved ones are always there for us. They want to help us no matter what.  They never think we are a burden upon them with out ED’s.

So for whatever reason it might be that you have yet to talk to your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your best friend, your roommate…the list could go on forever…put it aside and do it.  Ask.  Tell them what is bothering you and that you need help.  I promise, they will always be there for you.  And I am always here for you. If you feel like you can’t take that step, let me know and I will help you. You can talk to me and I will help as much as I can.

I want everyone to heal.  I know you can’t do it alone.  I know how hard it is.]]

Whew.  That was hard as hell to write.  Goodness, can we get a more uplifting part of the post going already?!  How about some fabulous eats?

Breakfast could not have been better. I mean, seriously Gina, you need to have this recipe patented or something!?

Breakfast cookie!

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Mine included:

  • 1/3 C quick oats
  • cinnamon
  • banana
  • dried cranberries
  • 1.5 T Naturally More PB

I actually heated it up for about 25 seconds in the microwave after I put the PB on…soooooooo good!

I spent the day out in the field, eating normal field eats…which by the way, I think I’ve skewed Deena Burtons Super Charge Me Cookies so much that they’re not her cookies anymore…I think I’m going to dub them My Field Cookies!  I’ll post my altered recipe later!

But I was so excited for dinner tonight…it’s something that I’ve tried before but it tasted so bad I have been afraid to try it again. Any guesses?

First, I started off my meal with a fruit salad: leftover mango, strawberries, blueberries

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And then a nice Vegetable and TEMPEH Bowl!!!

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I have been terrified to use Tempeh in any form since I made it once a few years ago and maybe I didn’t cook it right or it was too old, but it was so bitter I couldn’t eat it!  I think this time I did a better job.

I chopped up the tempeh into slices and marinated it in some low sodium soy sauce, garlic and onion bits in the fridge for a few hours.  When it came to meal time, I steamed and sautéed:

  • 1/3 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sliced mushrooms
  • some broccoli
  • some asparagus

After the veggies were cooked to almost done I threw the tempeh in there and sautéed the pieces until they were brown.

DUDE…why did I avoid this for so long!!!???  I’m ashamed at my vegetarian avoidance!  Hehe.  TASTY!!!!

Ok, I’m off to get ready for some NCIS action…I love me some Jethro…;)

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30 Responses to How I Got Help…

  1. moretolifethanlettuce says:

    what a good no-nonsense friend you have! so glad you got help, whether or not you were pleaed about getting it at the time, you obviously needed it! i'm glad you can talk openly about it with your parents and other people too. honestly the ONLY place i talk about my ED openly is in the blogworld! even though i started seeing my therapist for my ED we have rarely talked directly about it because i refuse to go into detail about my behaviors, etc. and my psychiatrist and i have only mentioned it like twice, for all of a second lol. i know that's not good, and i need to open up to them, but it's hard. since i've reached a medically stable point my mom no longer says anything to me about it, so it just goes unspoken. same with the rest of my fam and friends. sigh! i am inspired by you, i hope to be that honest and open soon!

  2. Krista says:

    I think the first part of this post was very uplifting! Not to discount your yummy eats, but reading your story was the highlight for me. I think your words will ring true with lots of struggling gals out there and give them the courage to get help.

  3. Jessica @ The Process of Healing says:

    I've been wanting to try tempeh forever too… so afraid i'll cook it wrong, kind of like my fear of tofu. But now that i've conquered and discovered I love tofu, maybe i'll try that!!

    And thank you for sharing that! Your friend is awesome. My best friend went through a severe case of anorexia, much worse than mine, and I have to say that being on the friend side, watching someone you love do that to themselves, is SO hard. Much harder than some people think. I remember seeing her without clothes on one time and that memory will haunt me for the rest of my life… I could see every single bone in her body. That image, that is what drove ME to see what I was doing to myself. Even though I never got as bad as her, I knew that I didn't want to reach that point. So reaching out to someone is a really hard thing.. your friend was lucky you were so willing to get help. My friend wasn't, she was in denial of her ED forever. And THAT was the hard part… wanting to help someone who doesn't want it, that's hard.

    As for my ED, I also felt like I didn't want to burden anyone by telling them. I only recently came completely clean with my mom and dad and best friend. Other than the blog world, they're the only ones who know. It's so sad we make ourselves of ashamed of it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing that. It was pretty much my story, only I haven't ever really talked to anyone (Besides my mom, dad, boyfriend and counselor) about it. In a strange sort of way it's comforting to know that I am not alone in my struggle and desires to change. So thank you.

  5. Tiffany says:

    melissa, that was an amazing post. i know it must have been hard to write, but thank you so much for being so honest and open about your recovery process. it's really inspiring, and i hope that your story will be able to help someone out there get the help they need and start on their road to recovery. oh, and i can't wait to see your version of the supercharge me cookie!

  6. MCkristin says:

    I cried reading this post. Even though I know it's not easy, the way you wrote this entry made getting help look like such a smooth, sensible process. Thanks for this.

  7. *Andrea* says:

    thanks for sharing! when i had ed i also lost the weight over a few months quickly and went to counselling after a friend told my mom she was concerned. i used to hate the word ED or anorexia but now that i've recovered/am recovering i feel way better at discussing it. people like you also are amazing at helping with this! your blog is great. never change ;)

  8. rediscoveringlauren says:

    hey hun,
    just wanted to say that i think your incredibly strong and what youve gone through has no doubt only made you a stronger person. by blogging about it and being so open about getting help youve helped so many people, so be proud of yourself for that :)
    x

  9. glidingcalm says:

    i love you. this brought tears to my eyes. gotta hide out in the India internet cafe!

  10. Mica says:

    Good for your friend, Jess! She sounds like she handled it really tactfully. I'm glad that she was able to get the ball rolling on helping you help yourself. It sounds like you've come a really long way, and you're a great advocate for recovery. Congratulations on all that you've done so far!

  11. Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind says:

    Wow. What's weird is I literally experienced some of the EXACT SAME emotions and thoughts as you as a result of my ED.

    My biggest obstacle was getting over feeling like a burden. You're right – an eating disorder just sounds like something so silly that a person should be able to just "get over" themselves. Not the case, as we know.

    I also couldn't use the term "eating disorder" for a while. Even for the first few weeks I blogged, those words were nowhere to be found in any of my writing. I was so ashamed. 'What if someone I know reads this? Then they'll KNOW.' Of course, anyone who took one look at me knew I had a problem.

    I ended up rewriting parts of my blog to include the term "eating disorder." I'm certainly not HAPPY or PROUD that I struggled with food, but I AM happy and proud that I've fought through it. I want others to know they can, too.

    I'm so glad people are talking about this stuff a lot lately(especially since it's NEDAwareness week!). It's easy to push to the back of your mind and "move on," but a constant discussion needs to be happening for change to occur.

    *Love this post.*

  12. brandi says:

    thank you for sharing! and what an amazing friend to do that for you. I know that a lot of people are scared to say anything, but the ones that do really care.

    and I really need to try tempeh! it looks great.

  13. Katie says:

    Your friend Jess is awesome! I'm so glad she helped you start healing… sometimes someone showing that they care about you is all it takes to admit there's a real problem.

    I hear ya on the tempeh! The first time I tried it I didn't love it, but I kept on and now it's one of my favorite proteins! I have some in my salad for lunch today.

  14. Jeri says:

    thanks for sharing more about your ED. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a million more times, but you're such a strong woman. I heart you. :D

  15. K from ksgoodeats says:

    I'm glad that your friend helped you get help. Just by typing all of this I'm sure you're helping more people than you realize.

    Your tempeh success gives me hope that I'll try it and like it. I've been too chicken to try it! YAY for NCIS!! Was it new last night? I'll have to catch up!

  16. Sonia says:

    You are so brave!! That story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. It is really great that you had such a wonderful friend that was there for you during that time. You are truly an inspiration.

    If only we could all be so honest with ourselves and our families :)

  17. JW says:

    Can I ask you what recipe you use for the chocolate pumpkin muffins?

  18. runwritetherapylife says:

    Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad you had that friend and that your parents were understanding. You're right about others wanting to help us. I haven't had an ED experience, but depression and an anxiety disorder, and as much as I want to keep things to myself, everything is much happier when I let others into my life. Very inspiring Melissa!

  19. Sarah says:

    That was wonderful! You are such an amazing woman, and I always find comfort in your blog knowing we've been through much of the same. Take care, dear!

  20. Erica says:

    Very cool- I'm so glad you wrote this. I think this will be incredibly helpful to so many that are suffering with similar issues! And I love that you wrote that you want everyone to heal :) I have only cooked tempeh once and didn't like the texture…I need to try it again.

  21. Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) says:

    Wonderful, thoughtful, and very wise post my friend. Thank you for sharing your story – I'm sure it spoke to more than you know. :)

    Tempeh – the BEST soy product out there. Yummy and fermented. :)

  22. Iris says:

    This made me cry because it reminded me so much of what I went through, and finally being able to tell people, my family especially. Your friend who took you to the counselor was really brave. I think it can be really easy to see something like that happening and be afraid to speak up. I'm glad she did and was a good support for you.

  23. jenngirl says:

    Wow you are so blessed to have had a friend like Jess–who was so direct and up-front with you,and not accusatory at all. I think my friends were all so freaked out by what I was doing that they were terrified to be that up front with me. There were comments, of course, but nothing that I ever had to take seriously. It was my mom that I was finally able to turn to when I could not take it anymore and thank god she did everything she thought would help. I think everyone has that "one person" who helps to intially get them on track to recovery, it's just knowing who to listen to.

    And I've never tried tempeh! I'm very intrigued though :)

  24. cw and jrw says:

    so proud of you and your progress.

  25. Christine (The Raw Project) says:

    Thanks so much for sharing and what a great post. I can very much relate to not being able to talk to anyone about it. You have an amazing friend to reach out to you so directly.

  26. Maggie says:

    I'm taking your lead and I'm gonna be more honest on my blog. I know I don't comment much anymore but I really love the side notes you have been doing.

  27. balancejoyanddelicias says:

    I enjoyed reading your recovery or first steps of recovery, those were brave moves! Proud of you girl~~

  28. whatkateate says:

    you should be so proud of yourself for putting together such a beautiful post & for overcoming such a trying stage in your life! i love your blog!

  29. Kat says:

    What an amazing post, and an amazing friend for guiding you to the right people at first. I'm so glad you're able to write something like this now!

  30. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful friend! I really wish that my recovery was so uplifting. Instead, my stepdad invaded my privacy, read my diary and dragged me to a therapist! But it all turned out okay in the end, so I shouldn't complain!

    I just came across your blog and I am so glad I did….so hello from a fellow environmental scientist, vegetarian (well, vegan), recovered anorexic and runner!!

    I'd love to see a post about whether or not you still struggle sometimes, and how your pull yourself out of it, if you haven't posted one already. :-)

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