Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The stuff that no one talks about

This post has been a long time coming. It's been in the back of my mind for months. Recently I realized that I was ready to make it happen. Ready to be insanely vulnerable with some of the hardest parts of my life. So with that said, here goes nothing...or everything.

I struggle with OCD. Although I was only diagnosed this year, I am pretty sure I have struggled with it since I was a child. Like most people I thought in order to have OCD you had to be scared of germs. You know, one of those people that washes there hands constantly or has a spotless house. While some people who struggle with OCD do have the fear of germs and contamination, it's not the only type and also goes far beyond that.

Before I really get into this it's best if you just temporarily forget about the portrayal of OCD  as you have seen on tv because really it's not anywhere near as glamorous. Also I know plenty of people say that they are "OCD" because they are neat freaks or particular about certain things. These are quirks or personality traits, super far from actually suffering from OCD, which is a mental disorder.

First off, OCD manifests in a lot of different ways. What I am sharing is just my experience, which like always is not everyone’s experience. Also, this is a very hard thing for me to share and talk about so if you have anything negative to say or any judgements, please keep them to yourself. Thanks.

Looking back now I could go on and on about other times in my life where I really struggled with OCD stuff, but what I am going to talk about today is what started shortly after I got pregnant.

Like most newly pregnant women, I was both ecstatic and scared to death. As most of you who know me or read my blog know, I was extremely sick my entire pregnancy. I stared throwing up just 5 weeks in and didn't stop until the day my daughter was born. Since I was pretty much in survival mode my entire pregnancy, I didn't realize how much my struggle with OCD played a part until way after the fact.

I had an overwhelming fear of miscarrying and losing my daughter. While this is a common fear of most pregnant woman, the level which is affected me was nothing close to normal. I was convinced that if I did anything "wrong" or if things weren't done in a certain way, my daughter would die.

Early in my first trimester my husband would give me my prenatal vitamins because I was too sick and tired to really do it myself. This turned into a must do, as in if John wasn't the one to hand me my vitamins, I would have a miscarriage. There were days later in the pregnancy where I would get up and get the bottle and then hand them to John so he could hand them back to me. Ridiculous? Yes. But this is how OCD works. You develop rituals in order to calm the anxiety and make sure the "bad things" don't come true. Of course, the more you do the compulsive behavior, the more it is reinforced, which just makes the OCD stronger.

My entire pregnancy was full of things like this; needing to drink the exact amount of water every night even though I wasn't thirsty, eating the exact same foods etc. A major component of OCD is reassurance seeking and this was really present for me during my pregnancy. I was constantly convinced that Grace wasn't ok, so I was constantly looking for reassurance anywhere I could. I would spend hours scouring the internet trying to confirm that the pain I was having or the brief lack of movement wasn't something serious. I spent tons and tons of time calling the doctor for every little thing and constantly wanted to hear my babies heart rate. Side note: My constant trips to the ER and doctors office were because I was so sick physically and usually needed fluids, however they only reinforced my compulsive checking to make sure everything was ok. One thing about reassurance seeking in OCD is that no matter what the answer is it isn't enough, so the cycle of asking and checking continues. Your anxiety increases and you start asking the same questions more. Until the day that I delivered a healthy little girl, I did not believe that she was ok.

Fast forward to about 2-3 weeks after Grace was born and I was a mess. Out of what felt like no where I had this horrible fear that something was going to happen to Grace, even worse I felt like I was going to be the cause of it. Some days it was so bad my husband had to take care of Grace because I was scared to touch her. I thought I was going to drop her or that she would choke to death while I was feeding her and those were the mild thoughts. These intrusive thoughts got worse and worse and I slipped into a really bad depression. I can't even begin to describe to you how hard it is to think horrible thoughts about your baby daughter, who you would do anything to keep safe. I really thought I had lost my mind and on many occasions I told John that I needed to be hospitalized.

Although I talked about this stuff with my husband, I was way too ashamed to share them with anyone else. I felt like a horrible mother and thought that others would think the same, or worse, take my child away from me.

One day out of sheer desperation I started scouring the internet to try and figure out what was wrong with me. It was then that I came across an article with the title "Post-partum OCD". That was it. There was no doubt that this was what I was struggling with but I was so entrenched in it, I was still scared to talk about it or get help.

A few months after Grace was born I decided to pay a visit to my old therapist. Although I shared some of my fears, which by this point where so bad I didn't want to leave the house and didn't let anyone other then me or my husband touch Grace, I was pretty vague about how bad it really was. She reassured me that I was a great capable mother and that she wasn't worried about my daughters health at all. When I rattled off all of the bad things I thought would happen, she simply replied, "well if those happen, then you will call 911". To this day, that was been some of the best advice I was given. You see OCD likes to make you feel incapable. It helps you continue to stay entrenched and do the compulsions.

Eventually John had to go back to work and friends and family had to go back to their lives. It was just me and Grace. Each day I was alone with her, I became more confident in my ability to take care of her and be a great mother. The intrusive thoughts were still there, but through enough exposure I began to believe that I wouldn't act on them. I will say I knew all along in my heart that I didn't really believe that I could or would hurt my daughter, but the brain is very powerful and OCD is resilient.

And then we moved. Although the move went smoothly and it was a much better place to live, I began to struggle a lot. Everything had to be done a certain way. I developed very elaborate rituals that consumed my life. I honestly believed that if I didn't do all of these things, something would happen to both Grace and John. At the same time I was very fed up with this. There were times where I was praying Grace would take a nap so I could organize the pantry or wash her bottles in a very specific way and order. I was spending so much time trying to control the anxiety and stop the thoughts, that I was moving further and further away from the things I valued. It was then that I finally realized I needed help.

In September I was referred to someone who specializes in OCD. It was only then that I realized how much and long I had been suffering. Shortly after she referred me to an intensive program that was highly ranked and helped treat OCD. This program was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The best way to treat OCD is exposure therapy; expose you to the things you fear and not let you do the compulsions. Or basically teach you that the thoughts/anxiety can't hurt you and that you can handle them.

To this day I still struggle and I still see a therapist who specializes in OCD. However this disorder isn't my whole life any more. The thoughts come and go, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but they no longer derail my entire day. I am learning my triggers and other ways to cope with the anxiety and distress.

The biggest thing is I am no longer ashamed of the fact that I struggle with OCD. Nor am I ashamed to talk about the post par-tum stuff.  I really believe that if we talked about this stuff a lot more we'd all be so much better off. I share my story because not only is it cathartic to me but because I hope to remind other people, especially mothers who struggle with OCD, that they are not alone. Nor are they bad mothers. There is help out there and everyone deserves it. My daughter is now 8 months old and I am finally enjoying the fun part of being a mother and am soaking up every second of it thanks to the amazing support I have received and my hard work. You can get here too, I truly believe that. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving

Today I found myself searching the internet for yummy do-able Thanksgiving recipes. It will be Grace's first ever holiday season. This isn't the only new thing this year. This will be the first year that I am super excited about Thanksgiving. I got a little teary typing that.

I used to dread Thanksgiving. Every single thing about it, especially the food. It was always so overwhelming for me. The panic usually hit at the beginning of November. I used to come up with a million scenarios in my head of how it would play out and how little I could get away with eating. Even more so,I would try to figure out how I could look "normal" while still following my strict eating disorder rules. The permission wasn't there. Everyone else was allowed to indulge in yummy food but not me.

I obsessed in my head and even went as far as telling myself I was "good" because I had more willpower than everyone else, all while secretly being very very jealous of everyone else's ability to eat what they wanted.

Then there were the times where I was so hungry from weeks and months of starving myself, that my rules went out the window. For this one day I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted. While on those days I felt like I was overeating and out of control, looking back I realize that my body was just desperately trying to fill a major deficit.

This year Thanksgiving doesn't feel so black and white. There will be some more traditional recipes but my eating won't be much different than any other day. The permission is there. The permission to let my body decide what it would like and how much. And of course the reminder that all of the same foods will be available the next day.

This year I am doing most of the cooking, something I have never done before. Recently I have found so much joy in cooking and being creative in the kitchen. I love making food for me and my family to share and am super excited to try out new things I have never done before.

Today, when I think about Thanksgiving, I smile. Instead of obsessing about food, I can be completely present with my family and be thankful for all of the blessings in my life, which is what the holiday is truly about.

You might not believe it now, but with hard work you can enjoy Thanksgiving as well. No matter where you are in your recovery, remember to cut yourself some slack this holiday season, you deserve it!



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Size Me

I remember when I refused to buy anything other than a size small. If I tried a small on it and it didn't fit I wouldn't even consider trying a medium. I would either buy it and wear it anyways, no matter how uncomfortable or I would use it as "motivation" to continue restricting in order to make it fit comfortably. I was devestarted when I bought my wedding dress in a size 8 instead of a 6 or 4.

I used to have panic attacks and meltdowns in dressing rooms. If the size I thought I should be didn't fit me perfectly then my day, week, month was ruined. It was never the clothes fault, it was always a problem with my body. More than that, the size that I wore was directly related to my worth. As I am sure you know, when your worth is hinged on something that naturally changes then you are going to be in trouble.

After I gave birth to Grace my body changed but not how I expected it to. I lost some weight and then gained some more. If you have read previous posts then you know I weigh about 80lbs more than I did before I got pregnant. Obviously, fitting into the clothes I wore before pregnancy isn't happening.

For the first few months post partum I struggled a lot with the idea of buying new clothes. I couldn't handle the idea of buying things that were much bigger than I was used to. I was still playiing the old numbers game, feeling that the size of my clothes said something about me other than what size I wore. And God forbid someone know that size...

A few weeks ago I finally got fed up enough with being uncomfortable and not having clothes that fit me properly. At the time I was still a little wrapped up in numbers but willing to at least give shopping a try. Having no idea what size I would actually wear I took my measurements and put them into some online thing that roughly caculates your size. I was shocked and devestated. I spent the day feeling horrible about myself and convinced that I would NEVER have clothes that fit because that size was unacceptable.

The next day I walked into Old Navy. I had zero expectations for myself. Maybe I would come out with some clothes or maybe I would have a meltdown in the dressing room or both. The first few things that I tried on did not fit but something amazing happened. Instead of bashing my body for not fitting into something, I declared that those pants just weren't made for me. It was the most relieving and freeing thought ever. My body wasn't wrong, I wasn't wrong, the pants were just wrong for me and that was ok.

Once I found a pair of pants that did fit me, the size didn't seem to matter. I stood in the dressing room repeating the size in my head and nothing. Instead I looked in the mirror smiling because it was the first time I was wearing jeans in probably 10 months and they FIT. No tears, no judgement and no promises to not eat for the rest of the day. They were just clothes, nothing more.

Since then I have come across a few other things as well. While trying on some clothes that a friend was getting rid of I didn't even bother looking at the sizes. I put it on and let myself decide, completly devoid of the number on the tag.

While adjusting to this new body is taking a lot of time and patience, I feel like I am finally able to let go of my obsession with numbers, especially weights and clothing sizes. I've detached them from my worth as well as let go of any special meaning they have held. They say nothing about me as a person. They are just numbers. I am still me, now with a comfortable wardrobe that allows me to go about my day, focusing on the things that I actually care about.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Walls

I remember when I first started truly trying to recover, a little over three years ago. While I understood that doing it on my own wasn't working, I really struggled to let people in. In fact, this blog was one of the first places that I really began to speak my truth and let myself be vulnerable and seen.

I spent a very long time breaking down walls that I had spent years building up and wearing like armour. Although I loved and trusted the people that were trying to help me, I was scared; scared to let the deepest, darkest parts of me be seen.

Since Grace was born, I have been struggling. It looks a lot different now, but it's still been hard. I've found that I have constructed some new walls, with the rubbage from the past. While these walls feel safe and comforting, they are also destructive and isolating. They keep out the monsters but also the people in my life that love and care about me.

I have been feeling really stuck for the last month (maybe longer) and have been incredibly frustrated. I feel like no amount of support has inspired change or made me feel any differently. I've been confused, feeling like I have been working really hard but am going in circles. I've been angry that things aren't changing no matter what I do and I have even blamed others.

I have felt unheard and today I realized it's because of the walls. While protective and cosy, they have kept me from being open and honest. The outside of these walls is coated with a very defensive protective layer and the inside is coated with shame. Thick thick layers of shame.

Shame thrives off of secrecy and isolation and I have been feeding it. Giving it exactly what it needs to survive and grow. This in turn has continued to keep me stuck and miserable. And it sucks.

I am missing out on things that are really important to me. The things that I actually care about and matter. Instead have been stuck in my own head, obsessing and focusing on strengthening the walls and preparing for battle. Except no one is waging war.

Those that are trying to help me, aren't fighting, instead offering me some compassionate shelter to rest my weary head. The space to be open and vulnerable without judgement. The warmth and love that demolishes shame to pieces. The comfort to be authentic and show how I am truly feeling in any given moment.

I haven't exactly embraced this. At least not yet. But I am hoping to get there. Although I haven't made it easy, I am hoping and praying that people will keep trying to help me knock down these walls. Because I know it's possible.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Body Hatred

Today I decided that Grace and I were going to go to the mall. I was getting a little stir crazy being in the house and Grace seems to enjoy looking around at all of the colors. She also normally takes a good nap when we walk around the mall and well I am always for that. After getting all of her stuff ready I decided that I was going to change clothes. I then proceeded to change clothes 6 times. Defeated, because nothing seemed to look how I wanted it to, I decided that I was too fat to go to the mall. I spent way more time than I'd like to admit obsessing about and hating on all of my "problem" areas.

Unlike most people who lose weight after giving birth, I have had hormonal issues that have caused my weight to continue to go up. As someone who already gained 90lbs while pregnant and is in recovery from an eating disorder, this has been very traumatic. To be honest it's like my biggest fear has come true.

As I obsessed in the mirror, Grace laid on the bed, smiling and "talking" to her best friend, one of our ceiling fans. She loves my body. When she is upset there is nothing more comforting to her than curling up on my chest. She wraps her tiny hands tightly around my belly. It's roundness a reminder of where she grew for 8 months. She loves when we snuggle close in bed. When I wrap my  arms around her, something that we do every morning. One of her new favorite things is sitting on my thighs, looking around curiously, as I support her. My daughter thinks my body is amazing, so why can't I?

We ended up going to the mall. As I was driving there I started thinking about how long I've hated my body. How long I thought being fat was the worst thing ever. It saddens me to say that I have lived with this body hatred since high school and even some in middle school. I remember stepping on the scale in 6th grade and thinking that I weighed too much. Three years later, I developed an eating disorder and have been fighting the battle ever since. 

As I walked around the mall I felt self conscious, like I didn't belong there. Like people were looking at me and judging me for my size. Like they some how knew that I used to be smaller and now was fat. It's really hard to admit that. Although I am pretty honest on my blog, I don't like talking about my body at all, especially how I feel about it. While it's become culturally acceptable to bash our bodies to each other, it makes me really uncomfortable.

The longer I walked around, the more I noticed that I was surrounded by people with all different body sizes and more so, that people were busy doing their own thing, not looking at me. This made the trip a little more enjoyable.

Hating your body is isolating. It's a distraction. An easy way to get stuck in your head and end up in a bad mood. An even easier way to miss out on life; the things that you really care about.

I am trying to be ok with my body and it's current size. As this post shows, it's still hard for me to do. But I am also sick of hating myself and buying into the crap society feeds us about beauty and thinness. I believed that becoming fat was the end of the world for me and well my world is still spinning. In fact, my life is a million times better than it was when I weighed a lot less.

Since Grace was born I have put a lot of pressure on myself to be completely recovered from my eating disorder and be 100% in love with my body. Although I am doing fairly well, these expectations aren't realistic for me. Instead I take one day at a time, cherishing watching my daughter grow and develop. Some days I can look at my body with some neutrality and even some love. I know one day that will be every day. For now, I try to be honest with myself about where I am at. Today I smile knowing that my daughter and my husband love my body and will hold on to the hope that I will some day as well.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Goodbyes

Yesterday I decided that I didn't want to have an eating disorder any more. This probably sounds ridiculous but let me explain. I have been in some kind of treatment and recovery for almost 3 years now. From the beginning I have taken my recovery pretty seriously. While there have been many bumps, stumbles and very rough times, I have never completely given up hope.

I have done a lot of personal development work in the last three years. Countless hours of therapy, nutrition appointments, support groups and even inpatient treatment for a few months. I will spare you with the amount of books and blogs I have read, in order to learn more about myself, break the old habits and patterns and ditch the eating disorder. I've seen how amazing and freeing life can be without struggling and have learned to love the person I've become.

With all of this said, I have still wanted to hang on to the eating disorder. I wanted that identity still, at least the "good" parts.

Recently I found out about the death of a good friend. A friend that I met in treatment. To say that it rocked me to my core would be an understatement. I have gone through some of the stages of grief and I am sure that are plenty more to come. I know I haven't completely processed her death. However, I am sure of one thing.

I don't want the eating disorder to be a part of my life any more, at all. I don't want that identity and label. I am more than ready to close that chapter of my life.

Now, I strongly believe that eating disorders are mental illnesses. So recovering isn't just about saying you are done. Hell if that was the case, I am hoping that I would have made that decision years ago. But I have done all of the other work. I know my stressors and triggers. I know when and why eating disorder thoughts come up for me. I even have quite a few newly built neuro-pathways to counter those thoughts. Although I don't always act accordingly, I know how to listen to my body and even feed myself properly. Not to toot my own horn but I am positive I have the knowledge and compassion to help others recover from an eating disorder. I've put in the hours. I've done my share of the dirty work.

With all of this being said, it wasn't until recently that I really was ready to fully commit to this. My eating disorder was a part of me and I didn't want to lose that. But that doesn't scare me any more.

My daughter is growing rapidly. Her little (actually pretty big) personality is starting to show through. Her motor skills are improving daily and she is already ready, at least mentally, to be on the move. My husband and I have been finding small amounts of time to do things together, mostly snuggling and watching old episodes of Knight Rider. I am starting to feel stronger both mentally and physically and finally feel like I am healing from the pregnancy and hormonal issues.

I still struggle with anxiety and depression yet I am finding new techniques to make those things a lot less crippling. I am also working on developing a positive relationship with my body. All in all, there isn't much room in my life for an eating disorder any more.

My sweet friend didn't have the chance to see what life could be like with out an eating disorder. Unfortunately, this is the case for many. But it doesn't have to be the case for me. In honour of Kristen, I have been living my life to the fullest every day. There are ups and downs, but I feel like a big weight has been lifted off of me. Because I have struggled for 12-13 years, I have felt like I have to be the girl with an eating disorder or even the girl in recovery from an eating disorder but I don't want either of those things any more. I am grateful for all I have learned and this entire journey. I also have no doubt that I will have my struggles here and there.

I feel like this post really makes recovery sound really simplistic and even easy. That is the farthest thing from the truth. Recovery has been the hardest thing I have ever done and probably will ever do.

For now I am closing this book. Focusing on the things that matter. Living my life. Thriving instead of surviving. Living in the present and taking each day as it comes. Rest in peace Kristen. I am so thankful for our time together. You are free now my dear friend. I love you so much and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living with a mental illness

Every day is a struggle. Some days it takes every ounce of energy I have just to get out of bed. Some days my anxiety is so bad that I can't bring myself to leave the house. You see, mental illnesses don't just go away because you have a child. My life is full of every day stressors just like everyone else, but for the most part I am living the live I've always wished for. I have a beautiful daughter who is growing rapidly before my eyes and constantly makes me smile, a caring, patient husband who is my number one fan and the love of my life, a very supportive treatment team that does whatever they can to listen and help me, family and friends that love my unconditionally, a house to live in, food to eat and two crazy yet wonderful cats. I am blessed beyond measure and am grateful for these things every single day.

Yet, life is still hard for me. The battle that I am fighting isn't always visible to others. It's a battle with myself. Although I don't partake in the behaviors as often as I used to, the eating disorder thoughts run through my head 24-7. I never feel good enough and always feel like I should be doing more. I am ashamed that I am not fully recovered by now, especially after being in treatment, therapy etc for the last 3 years. I hate that I struggle with crippling anxiety and depression. While I recognize that there is only so much I can do about my physiology and brain chemistry, I wish I could find a solution. I want to feel better long term. I want things to get easier. Deep down inside I know that I am doing the best that I can.

I love being a mother and a wife. Having my own littler family is truly wonderful. Even at 3 months old my daughter teaches me something new every day. She has forced me to grow and branch out of my comfort zone. She brings out the best in me and has brought so much joy to my life. She looks past all of my perceived imperfections and sees the real me. She is one of the big reasons why I continue to fight.

I naively believed that when I had the things that I have longer for, for years, that I would instantly be better. That I would finally be free from the eating disorder that has stolen the last 12 years of my life, the self doubt and self hatred, the anxiety and depression. Now don't get me wrong, I am happy. depression doesn't mean you are unhappy all of the time. When I look at my daughter or spend time with my husband, I do a lot of laughing and smiling. I love my life and the blessings that I have been given. All of this has nothing to do with those things. This is what it's likes living with mental illnesses. At least my experience with them. It's not easy. Although I have moments of reprieve, these things have never completely gone away.

If you know someone who struggles, be kind and patient. They are probably doing the best that I can. Even if they aren't, cut them some slack. Don't judge.Ending the shame and stigma around mental illness is why I speak so openly about my struggles.

If you struggle, please remember that even when you feel trapped and stuck, you are loved by many and you matter. The world is a beautiful place because you are a part of it. And of course, don't give up, there is always hope. Help and support is out there.     

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Motherhood

It's been a while. I've wanted to write but it just hasn't happened. The last few months of the pregnancy I was pretty much in survival mode and well since my daughter has been born I haven't had the energy to write or the time really. My self care has been lacking since April 16th (the day Grace was born) and writing is a big part of that for me. I really do hope that my journey helps others but I write mostly for myself. Putting my thoughts on to paper, being vulnerable for the entire world (well whoever reads my blog) to see is very cathartic to me. It's like therapy, but free and way easier. So here is a glimpse into how I have been feeling and my journey since becoming a mother, completely raw and unfiltered.

Motherhood is hard. Way harder than I ever imagined. My daughter is a little over a month old and I still have no freaking idea what I am doing. Can I mention how much I hate that? I worry constantly so much so that the anxiety is crippling some times. I worry about her safety and whether I am doing the "right" thing. Even after years of therapy and self work, I struggle with wanting to be the perfect mom.

I thought once Grace was born things would get back to normal quickly. After a very difficult pregnancy I thought I would feel better once I was no longer throwing up constantly. I was very unprepared and naive as to how things were going to play out. First off, recovering from preclampsia and a c section were way harder than I ever imagined. It wasn't quick. It wasn't easy. And man was it painful. Now that I am able to move around and do every day tasks I am suffering from the fatigue one would feel when they spent months on bed rest. My body is out of shape and it's getting to me. Despite being as sick as I was during the pregnancy I gained 90lbs. It's not really the number that bothers me. I vowed to not step on a scale once Grace was born and I have stuck to that. It's how uncomfortable and disconnected I feel in my body. It's the fact that it's hard for me to get up and down from the floor and that my thighs rub together when I walk. Did I mention that I have next to no clothes that fit?  Before you jump on top of me about how I should be focusing on my daughter as opposed to my size, please realiize expressing and accepting these bad feelings are what allows me to get past them and focus on my daughter. A few weeks ago I was scared to reach out and express these feelings because I want to be a role model to my daughter but I am doing that by being honest, expressing my feelings, communicating, asking for help  and not allowing shame to win.

Despite the tone of this post so far, I am very happy. The love and joy that I feel every time that I look at my daughter isn't measurable. Even at 2:30am when she wants to do anything but sleep, I am overcome with gratitude. I am honored to be her mother. It's so much fun watching her develop and grow and we are starting to see parts of her personality come out. She is such a peaceful, content and easy baby. We are blessed beyond measure and I realize that every single day.

I used to believe that you couldn't have happy and sad or anxious and content. That conflicting feelings just coudln't exsist. But that is what motherhood has been like for me. It's frusturating when you daughter is fussing and the only thing that calms her down is holding her, and it's 5 am and you want nothing more to sleep. But it also feels amazing knowing that you are a source of comfort and safety and I love snuggling with her.

My eating disorder recovery was pretty solid before pregnancy. Niavely I believed that once my daughter was born I would never have another ED thought again. With the stress of having a baby, not getting enough sleep and not taking care of myself as well as I should be, and the pregnancy weight gain, a lot of my ED thoughts have come back  really really strong. Because of this I have sought out support and have been honest with myself, my support system, friends and family. Allowing myself to talk about these thoughts and feelings has kept me from acting on them and for that I am proud of myself. As hard as it can be dealing with the thoughts it's empowering not to give in. By doing so I am gaining momentum.

The more I write the more I am thinking about the purpose of this post and the clearer it is becoming to me. It seems a lot of pressure is put on new moms, by our society and ourselves. As someone who has struggled with an ED and other mental illnesses, the pressure is even greater. I want to show the world that I have my shit together and am an amazing mom. The thing I have realized is I don't need to have my shit together to be an amazing mom. On days I am struggling a little more I lean on my husband for support. I do the bare minimum of what needs to get done. I spend a lot of time snuggling with my little one. I don't try to be superwoman. I won't say the negative voice doesn't creep in often, but that is when I turn off my head and listen to my heart. No matter how hard the day, when I stop and realize how much I love my daughter, nothing else matters. When I realize this I no longer feel the need to do things perfectly or make it seems like I have it all together. Because my love for her is something that I never doubt and I believe this is more important than anything else.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pregnancy and weight gain

I am struggling. This whole pregnancy has been a struggle but that is another story, one that anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing about. ( trust me, I am sure sick of being sick and complaining about it as well)

The last few weeks have been difficult. I am around 29 weeks, the point in pregnancy where things swell and have become huge. And it's getting to me, A LOT. Gaining weight is hard for most people. It's even harder for someone in recovery from an eating disorder. Before I go any further into my struggle with body image during pregnancy and weight gain I want to be clean about something. I am not nor have not given into any eating disorder behaviors during this entire pregnancy. Not do I plan on it now or after my daughter is born. This post is a honest look at how I have been feeling not what my actions have been at all.

I have to hold back tears every time I step on the scale at the doctors office. Everyday my body is growing more and more and it's getting beyond uncomfortable When I catch a glimpse of my body in the mirror I am in shock. "How did I get this big?" "How have I gained this much weight when I still throw up every single day?" And the questions just get more and more negative and  judgemental each time.

And then the doctor informs me that my little Grace is doing wonderfully. Is as strong as ever and growing more every day. The doctor tells me that my vitals are perfect and my blood sugar is in a great range. Then I feel my little girl kick or punch and my heart melts. In those moments I love my body and praise it for giving my precious little girl a place to grow and thrive.

Then comes the guilt and shame. "How can you be so disgusted by something so wonderful?" "You are a bad mom" "You are always going to struggle with eating disorder thoughts." This shame and guilt is why I suffered with all of this with weeks before bringing it up to my husband and my therapist. Because I felt like a recovery fraud and failure for thinking any of these negative things about my body. Even worse, I felt ungrateful for my miracle and that I was a horrible undeserving person.

But I am not. These thoughts don't mean I love my daughter any less or that I am doomed to be a horrible role model and parent. These thoughts are feelings based on years of lies that I believed and told myself. These thoughts aren't my truth. Yet they also are how I feel on some days.

I have wanted to have kids my entire life. When I found out I was pregnant I vowed to put my entire eating disorder history behind me. But recovery and life aren't black and white. And being a role model to my daughter doesn't mean hiding how I feel and allowing shame to win.

So yea, I am struggling with the amount of weight I have gained and how uncomfortable the third trimester of pregnancy can be. And I am not exactly looking forward to the continuing weight gain that is bound to occur. But I will continue pushing forward and not allow these things to be more than thoughts because when I look down at my stomach and think about my little girl, my heart is so full of joy that I can't imagine anything better. And every pound of weight I have gained is completely worth getting to be a mother.