Tuesday, February 25, 2014

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

I got WAY off track and went on a full blow unnecessary ultra-long rant. Then I remembered it's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I scaled back some of the excessive complaining in my initial tirade. That way the focus could be at least a little bit more on recovery. That said, I still felt the need to vent, so the following is a little bit disjointed. Read at your own risk, and if you do, pay attention to the very bottom.
Movement, something I have needed and craved, has become more difficult for me lately. More specifically, running hurts, and running was something that always helped me turn inward, away from all the daily bullshit, and feel at least somewhat more grounded and comfortable in my own skin. Without it, I'm feeling lost, but I'm working on finding other avenues that help me feel OK in the world. Oddly enough, immersing myself in the culinary world in an observing position is igniting some fire in me that has been dormant for a long, long time. I'm finding my own passion through the passion and dedication of others, especially chefs, cheese makers and chocolatiers.

What's nice is that the other blog posts I do for Front Range Reviews are not about me. That allows me to step outside myself and focus on something else. No drama, no worries, no distrust or fear, just getting lost in the moment by writing about something interesting.

Then again, it can be cathartic to reflect on matters closer to home. Venting can bring about some relief.

I actually have at least some good news on the injury front. Though the tendinitis in both hamstrings is still there, the labrum tears in both hips are still an issue and both feet have their problems, I have been able to do at least a little bit of jogging, which is better than it was for a long time. The real issue is the endometriosis, but I will go into more detail about that in a different post.

Because it's National Eating Disorders Awareness Month, I want to address the supposedly changing standard of beauty, which really isn't changing all that much or isn't changing fast enough. Part of the problem lately is that everyone feels the need to be a critic. I don't mean that people observe or make comments based on these observations, I mean that people are really into ripping each other apart. It's like humans enjoy cutting others down, and those who don't do it like watching or reading about others doing it. Instead of offering valid advice or simple reviews, critics seem to get off bashing people and ripping apart anyone who doesn't fit a certain mold.

Because of this, it seems some people are pushed to go to drastic measures to try to fit into a very narrow beauty ideal. What's odd is that I can't imagine that others find those who have undergone extreme surgeries or overdone it on fillers and implants all that beautiful. I keep wondering why so many people are driven to carve themselves up when the end result is that they look like a caricature. But in many situations, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't, because people will criticize one way or another.

So often I just want to ask, "Who the fuck are you?" to the fashion police, bloggers, the media and random people who have to toss what they think about others into the conversation. Who the fuck are you to judge anyone? The more I watch how people behave, the more disgusted I am with the way the world is. I know there are exceptions, sure, but there's an overall trend of people being thoughtless, nasty fucks that doesn't sit well with me. No wonder everyone is so neurotic. It's rare to feel supported in life anymore. It rare to trust people, and it's rare to not feel that all critical eyes are upon you.

People can be so full of themselves. It's shocking to me. Where is all this ego coming from? What makes anyone think they are in a position to criticize anyone else, and what makes anyone think they are better than anyone else?

I know when people get overly judgmental or have sham confidence, it usually stems from an underlying insecurity. But people are so often self absorbed, demanding of attention and downright mean these days. Sometimes I just want to live my life entirely away from all but a handful of people, just unplug completely and go about life as if computers, t.v. and other sources of media didn't exist. I'm convinced that the internet has made selfishness and criticism a worsening problem. Just look at this video of a girl tearing apart a Dunkin' Donuts employee for no good reason. Does it seem like this type of shit is occurring more frequently? I think it is. And who the fuck is she anyway?

Just knowing how belittling people can be is enough to cause anyone with an ounce of sensitivity to worry. Those of us who are already overly self-critical can easily get distracted by what others say.

So here I am being the critic's critic.

In terms of recovery, I think it would be difficult to do so the way things are now, where everyone is seemingly watching everyone else. Everyone assumes they are in the spotlight too, even if that spotlight is no more than a flicker of light. I had the luxury of limiting my contacts when I jumped into recovery, and that helped me steer clear of too much negative feedback and prevented me from being exposed to too many potentially triggering statements. On the other hand, it can be nice to connect with others who are going through something similar in online support groups, so maybe the internet isn't all bad. I guess you just have to be careful about how involved you get in online antics and know that your actions and words can affect others.

My other caution relating to recovery is getting distracted by people who insist, "You should try it!"

I get that a lot here in Boulder and on facebook, everyone promoting a certain diet from raw foods, clean eating or vegan diets to Atkins or the newly popular Keto diet, everyone's pushing something. I think it's fine when people try something and discover it works for them. It's even fine when they want to share, but for people who have eating disorders, pushing them too much to try a new diet is almost certain to be a bad move. 

Leading by example is OK, but it's important to keep in mind that insisting that someone in recovery try this or that diet can be triggering. Most of us who have struggled or are still struggling are overly self-critical, and we don't need someone telling us what we should or shouldn't eat. Hell, many people have a hard enough time putting food in their mouths, so they don't need to be put down for eating a certain kind of food. You can eat your bacon-wrapped steaks slathered in butter, but don't force it on anyone else. And if you want to munch on raw carrot sticks for dinner, that's fine as long as you don't insist that if I do the same, it will make me feel better and eliminate all my problems. 

The bottom line is that recovery takes courage. You have to filter out all the crap that others spew and focus on anything and everything that keeps you heading in a positive, healthy direction. There are plenty of people around who have overcome eating disorders who can tell you that a full recovery is possible, and if you look for it, you can find the right kind of support from others.

I had to copy this from Carmen Cool who is leading the way in body acceptance and social reform:

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. 

It was 26 years ago that I went into treatment for bulimia.

It was 9 years ago that my sister died from anorexia. 

This is what I know for sure:

Eating Disorders can be deadly. 

Full recovery is entirely possible. 

We all deserve to feel at peace with our bodies and with food.

Keep fighting. Change is possible.