A New Label for Mental Illness

I am going to declare a new label for those with mental illness. I will call it…

… drum roll please…

“A Strong Person’s Illness”

— a true label for the powerful and the courageous. Here’s why:

There are labels and diagnostic codes for people like me. I have been labeled as many things over the years, such as “bulimic (F50.2).” The ones that havBe brave. Be youe followed me and have stuck like a hot branding iron to my buttocks are, “generalized anxiety (F41.1)” and “reoccurring mild depression (F31.3).”

I’m not saying there is no place for labels in the mental health industry—Sure, they serve a purpose for treatment. That’s a great thing! But the downside is that they tend to overgeneralize a person—placing those of us who have some form of mental illness into a neat little box that subjects us to the stigma that has come along with mental illness for centuries.

I am not flawed, broken, and unfixable due to my mental illness, and I am not “mental illness,” just as someone who has cancer is not “cancer.” Mental illness disorders are not moral issues or weaknesses. Many of the people I know who have struggled with such ailments are smart, funny, and powerfully creative people. Mental illness does not discriminate. It will ravage the poor, the billionaire and the saint.

I speak to many patients and families who have taken these labels and used them as if they were nicknames for themselves or loved ones.  We all do it. Our culture is obsessed with putting labels on us all — mental illness or not. But here’s why I have a problem, outside of the insurance companies, we run the risk of minimizing the bravery, the humanness, the very core of the people who are ever so deserving of all that we can give to support them as we do with those suffering from physical ailments. Click here to read the rest of the article.

 

Tips to Help Children Build a Healthy Relationship with Food and Body

“I don’t want my children to have the same relationship with food that I have.”

THE MakePeaceWithYourPlate.FINALDepending on our relationship with food and our bodies and the way we relate to them within the family dynamic, our children will follow suit. “I shouldn’t have eaten that,” said Molly to her children, holding her round belly in disgust. “I’ll start over tomorrow.”

New studies show that binge eating in children is a taught behavior. As parents, we have to change the way we relate to food and our bodies before we can support our children in doing the same. Just like our children repeat our sayings when they begin to talk (which can be quite embarrassing sometimes), they, too, will mirror our beliefs and actions around food and the body.

A while back, I started noticing a change in my daughters’ behaviors when there was a change in mine. One day, as I was silently fuming about something of little importance (I can’t even remember what it was), I noticed my girls acting up. As I continued to rage within, I became more and more irritated—as my mood escalated, so did my daughters’. They started yelling at each other, and even the dog started barking. I began to notice this often, so the next time I was annoyed around my daughters, after yelling at them wasn’t doing the trick, I decided to do an experiment. I focused on calming myself and then went over to my daughters and in a quiet, gentle voice asked, “Are you okay?” After a little bit of a puzzled look, their energy lowered. I had emotionally hijacked my daughters with my behavior and they soaked it up like a sponge without any thought. While I am not the dictator of their moods and beliefs, I play a role in the navigation—including food and body beliefs.

Here’re a few tips to start rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and your body and, in turn, your children’s:

  1. Remove “good” and “bad” labels: Remove all that you have learned about dieting and start a new conversation at the dining table. Instead, request that they eat one portion of each: grains, fruit/vegetables, and protein—no food is off limits within these categories. When food is just food and not a “reward,” a “treat,” or “wrong”/”right,” it allows us to put food to its rightful use—a source of energy and enjoyment.
  2. Adjust your body talk: Somewhere in time, we have forgotten that desiring beauty is in our DNA. It’s okay to tell your child that you love the way they look, but be mindful of suggesting our worth is based solely in our body’s shape. Sure, go ahead and call your child beautiful—nothing wrong with that—but while you’re at it, consider throwing in another description, also. “What a smart, lovely, beautiful, caring person you are.”
  3. Comfort with connections: Many of us are guilty of cheering our children up with a “treat.” I love chocolate as much as the next person, but when your child faces challenging emotions, try staying away from using food as comfort. Try connecting during a walk instead of an ice-cream.

Change the way you relate to food and your entire family will be positively impacted.

Coping with Feelings of Unworthiness

Hustling for self worthSomething happened to me yesterday. The details of the situation are not important. But I will say that the situation left me feeling small and useless. I beat myself up over it (a common story), and then, I got really sad.

What matters is that, once again, when something doesn’t feel good to me, I go straight to feeling unworthy. My brain flat-lined when I tried to name things that I have that are of value. I started a list

“I’m good at….” Nope. Nothing. I cried.

Standing on the stair landing of our home, I looked at my hubby and blurted out through my constricted throat:

“I’m not sad about what happened. I’m sad that I still don’t have my own back. I want to be the person that tells me it is okay. After all the work I have done on my recovery, why do I still get to a place of feeling unworthy when the poop hits the fan?”

“Most of us think, ‘I’m pretty worthy of love and belonging — but I’d be super worthy of love and belonging if I could lose 15 pounds. Or I made partner. Or if my wife doesn’t leave. Or if I stay sober,’ or whatever our thing is. You are imperfect…but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

–  Quote by Professor and Author Brené Brown

Click here to read the rest of the article

Exercising Body Mind and Spirit

Bec

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, exercise for me is like poking myself in the eye with a sharp stick. Exercise takes time and work, and the expectations I have for myself have been overwhelming, so I just don’t do it.

The problem is that I need to exercise. We all do. Long after the food has taken its rightful place in my life, I have realized that, just because I don’t have to exercise to be a certain size, I still need to move because my body needs to. It’s that simple, really.

Today, I reached out to one of my long-time BFFs, Rebecca Cardon. She’s a fitness instructor and reality star of Bravo’s “WorkOut” and “The Amazing Race.” Bec has an important lesson to share with us, “It’s all in the balance of body, mind and spirit.” You guys, that means it’s not so much about what you do for exercise; rather, how you incorporate balance to benefit your entire being of body, mind, and spirit. Just as our body needs exercise so does our mind and spirituality. BAM! Makes sense to me. Click here to watch Rebecca Cardon, Exercising Body, Mind and Spirit

How to Redefine the Holiday in Eating Disorder Recovery

Robyn and her girlsWhether or not we have a history of eating disorders, the holidays are triggering for most of us. There are always going to be three things during the holiday season: family, emotions, and a truckload of food. We need to be realistic if we are going to make it through the holiday season intact.

The holiday season has become outlandish. While I like “outlandish” as much as the next person, as with most things, our culture imposes its definition of what it “should” be. I have learned that I need to define the holidays by what they mean to me. For me, the holidays symbolize very different things than what they did when I was struggling with an eating disorder. Today, the holidays mean taking the time to build upon my family connections. They are about reflecting and expressing gratitude for what I have, who I have become, and where I want to go. I want my family to know that I love them, and there are ways that I will get to outlandishly express that amidst the holidays–with cheer. So, the question is, how do we define what the holiday period means to us, and how do we choose to show up for holiday events without being hijacked by food, emotions and, sometimes, family?

When we enter recovery, we begin to question our thoughts regarding our eating disorders. It is also beneficial to question other areas of our lives; for example, what do I want the holidays to represent? Take a moment to write down what you want the holidays to be. Incorporate your values, family traditions, and the things you want to add that pertain to your recovery. Shift your thoughts from “How am I going to get through the holiday season?” to “How will I incorporate my new definition of the holidays this season?” Click here to read the full article

How to Cope with an Eating Disorder during the Holidays

Christmas time with me and the girlsGreat article to help you and your loved ones during the holidays by  for Originally posted: USNews

When Meggie Sexton anticipated the holidays, she thought about one thing and one thing only: the food. And not in a good way.

“I didn’t even think about family and friends and that camaraderie,” says Sexton, a 32-year-old nonprofit account manager in Columbus, Ohio. “I was completely fearful of the meals because I felt like I would be totally out of control.”

For weeks leading up to the celebrations, Sexton, a graduate student at the time, double downed on her efforts to eat as little and exercise as much as possible in order to “compensate” for the upcoming temptations. But when she went home, she rarely indulged, even turning down events as important as friends’ baby showers because she didn’t want to face food. Once the holidays were over, she returned to her apartment to binge and purge. “It was an awful cycle,” remembers Sexton, who struggled with anorexia and bulimia for about seven years.

Feeling especially anxious around the holidays is common among people with eating disorders or attempting to recover from them, says Robyn Cruze, the national recovery advocate at Eating Recovery Center in Denver. “Even though an eating disorder is not about the food, the mental illness stands as it is around the food,” she says. “When you’re put in a room with food everywhere, it kind of can feel like walking through mine fields.”

Click here for the full article.

Making Peace with Your Plate