band aids

Look up the song “In My Lungs” by Chris Renzema. There is a bit in this song that goes like this

 

“So don’t let me, live my life with this bandage on

Don’t let me, let the fear of what I’m not, make my heart numb”

 

When I heard this bit my heart crumbled, because I feel it on so many levels.

The easiest thing to do is to take a look at our lives – at our pasts, at our nows, at the things that hurt, and at the reasons as to why our futures seem hopeless – and sit in a pile of self pity. Instead of confronting these things that we are afraid of, these things that ache, it is easier to just slap a bandaid on them, and wait for them to get better. I am sat here today well aware that this is the easiest thing to do, because I have done it for so long. The hardest thing about entering into recovery from eating disorders was letting go of the false safety net that eating disorders offer. Now – as I am confronting the anxiety and depression that have had a chokehold around my lungs for so long – I am finding it most difficult to think about being anything but a girl with anxiety and depression. It makes my stomach ache thinking about how I could be anything else but these labels I have held onto with calloused hands. Now that I am discovering that I am more than these things — it is hard to take the bandages off. It was easy to put them there. To hide them for nobody else to see. When I was younger I remember there a came a point on my scraped knees that my grandma would say the band aid was no longer needed, because it needed to be exposed to the air in order to heal completely. I think I am at this point in my healing from mental disorders.

 

I don’t want to cover my hurts from the wind that holds healing anymore. I don’t want to be ashamed that I struggle. I have come to this point in my life where I know that I want to get better. I want to learn different ways of thinking about myself, and my circumstances. I want to be gentler with myself, and with others. I want to be less angry. I want to stop hiding from things that are hard. Broken people don’t have to stay broken forever – and I am holding onto the promise that freedom is ALREADY mine, even though I am still fighting for it. I am holding onto the promise that this fight I am fighting right now will not always be this difficult in my existence.

 

I believe that recovery is possible – if we fight for it. Fighting for it looks different every day. Keep waking up. Scream if you have to. Sit quietly with yourself, and get comfortable with emptiness, so that when fullness comes you are prepared to feel it. Speak even when your voice is being strangled by your insides – it’s ok if you’re shake-y. Being shake-y is a side effect of being brave. Cry. Dance. Sing. Do these things, so that days from now – when you no longer have a sticker on your shirt that says “Hi, my name is: *insert name of mental disorder*” – you can look back on how they used to be hard. How you used to be a shell of a person. I believe that we won’t always be shells of people. We can get through this. We can be heart beats bursting through rib cages. We can be footsteps seeping with purpose. We can be veins flowing with hope. 

 

If you are struggling – please don’t let the fear of getting help stop you from actually getting help. You are worthy of love. Worthy of help. Worthy of being known. Worthy of this fight. Worthy of change. Worthy of freedom. I am here fighting with you, and I hope that today – we can let go of what we’ve been holding onto that has calloused our hands for so long, and replace it with these gentle but fierce truths of our worthiness – together. 

 

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

  Zephaniah 3:17

 

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eating disorders: the silent unpacking

Looking back on my life I am able to see that my relationship with food has been messed up since about five years old, but it was never something I really thought about or talked about. I remember the moments when I realized I was battling with anorexia. This is crazy — because, truthfully, I did not realize it. I had been fat, and then I wasn’t. I thought that I had won the battle that cursed my name, until I realized that the real fight had only begun. Eating disorders settle in in a way that is hardly noticeable.

 

Here is ‘how an eating disorder disrupted my brain” in a simple story: you make a new friend, and you get really close with that friend. You go shopping with them, you go on runs with them, you go out to eat with them, you go to movies with them, you talk to each other at school and at work. You go on vacation together, and you spend holidays together. Other people notice when your friend is gone, and they anticipate for them to come back, because it’s almost as though you are not you without them. Then, slowly, your friend starts to leave her things in your house. They start small – they leave a pair of earrings on your dresser. Then, on a day it’s raining, you need an umbrella and you grab one from your stack of umbrellas and it’s one you have never seen before. You ponder and try to recall where you got said umbrella, but when you can’t remember, you just go about your day as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Then one day a brand new lamp shows up in your living room. You’re confused, but you don’t know how to address your confusion. Then as weeks and months pass more of your friends things start appearing, slowly and still hardly noticed, but then it’s midday on a Thursday, and you realize that your friend has unpacked all of her belongings inside various rooms of your house, and you do not know what to do. You stopped noticing her things were appearing, and you became comfortable with them being around. You know that the best thing for you is to ask her to leave, and take her things with her, but at first you cannot get yourself to do it. She made you feel safe, and loved, and you were able to hide behind her when things were not going well, because she was good at getting people to notice you. But, eventually, you get sick and tired of her always getting in the way of your relationship with your family, and how she makes you talk about her with your other friends, and she steals away your joy with all of the havoc she causes in the middle of the night, so you try to kick her out. She doesn’t budge. So you keep screaming at her and fighting with her, but she continues to negotiate with you, and she brings up valid points as to why you should keep her around. There comes a time when you have to pull her out of your front door while she screams profanities for all to hear. She won’t leave without a fight, because she knows that you are finally for real about not inviting her back in. Finally — she is gone. You get back inside of your house, ready to sit down, and enjoy a nice book, when you realize that you are sitting on her furniture. All of her things are still here. This is the hardest part, because now you have to figure out a way to get rid of all of her things that are still in the way of your things. When this happens you begin to look back on when your friendship began, and you see all of the warning signs. You see the flaws that people pointed out to you when you were still best friends. You begin to remember all of these things that seemed so normal at the time, but you see them in a different light. They are tainted with the harsh reality that your friend was out to get you your whole entire friendship. She did not want to give you anything, rather she wanted to take all that you were without permission and without thought of giving in return. The only thing you can do now is slowly take her things and throw them in the dumpsters three towns over, so you’ll never have to see them again. At first – her things seem bigger and worse than they were before she left. Some days moving her things is easy, but other days they become too heavy, and it feels too sad to part with them, so you sob and sob and give into the pull of their call. But after all the days — her things begin to dissipate. Eventually there are only small traces that she was ever around, and you hold onto the hope that if you keep moving forward with removing her things from your life, she will only become a distant memory. One that you will be able to look at and say “this. This made me stronger. I am who I am today, because I fought to find myself.”

 

Realizing I had anorexia was the beginning of my recovery from disordered eating, self hatred, and body dysmorphia. It is true — I did not realize that I was anorexic for nearly a year. I had not seen my behaviors and habits as anything but “losing weight,” and “getting healthy.” I wish that I could say that realizing I was sick made me better immediately, but it did not. Yes — if I had not come to the fact that I was on a journey of disappearance — I would have never chosen recovery, but it was only the beginning. I did not have proper guidance in my recovery, and anorexia lead into binge eating disorder, which is a discussion for a different day. So my journey was one of being lost and immense confusion, and at the beginning of my recovery I was so angry at myself. All of the control I thought I had was stripped from me, because I was trying to combat against anorexia. I look back on those first few months of my recovery, and I ache for that girl. She was so lost, afraid, and she had a burning hatred for her own existence.

 

I am thankful for this battle with eating disorders, because it has made me stronger. My persistence in fighting for truth has brought me to the me I am today. I have relapsed more than once, but even after weeks of crying puddles around my own feet, by the grace of God, I have been able to find my way back up. I have been able to discover who I am in Christ, and that is a women of peace. Someone that does not need to be perfect to be loved, someone that does not need to continually chase after unachievable goals. I am still fighting in this battle that is recovery, but I am beginning to see how worth it recovery really is. I am holding onto the hope that one day this fight will be one for the memory books — that this fight will be a distant memory. That this fight molded me into someone that is a steadfast, tenacious, bold daughter of God.


If you are struggling with an eating disorder, body image, or self-hatred I would love to talk to you, because I know what it feels like. Please know that you are not alone in this fight — I know how isolating it can feel — as if nobody understands what you are going through. I promise you — this is not the case. You are not alone in this. Seeking help does not make you weak — it makes you brave. There are people and resources that can lead you in your recovery. Keep fighting — even if it feels worthless — because there will come a day when every moment of recovery will be worth it. We are in this together.

Not My anxiety

When I was in the tenth grade I had a history class sixth period. My teacher was one of the kindest most laid back teachers I can remember, and there was no reason to feel suffocated in his class. Yet – my heart had palpitations every time I stepped foot into his room, and I now understand why. The class I had afterwards was geometry, and I DESPISED geometry. There were only eight of us in the class, which allowed for everyone to be called on during that 55 minute class. Four out of the eight of us (according to my underclassman brain) were horrifying, smart, and important upperclassman — and I was not one of them. So, everyday before this class came about I would internally panic in sixth period at the thought of having to walk a few feet down the hall, turn left, and enter into seventh period. I would stare at the clock, and wish for the minutes to either pause or flash before my eyes before anyone else noticed I was there. I was afraid of being heard. I was afraid of being seen. And I was afraid of looking like a fool.

 

Flash forward almost 4 years, and I am currently in my second semester as a freshman in college, and it feels as though my life has gone full circle — right back to that geometry class that sparked in me a fear I knew (and still know) so deeply, but at the same time dreaded to come in contact with. The fear that my own inadequacies will scratch themselves above skin level, and write their names over the entirety of my body. My bones ache for perfection, and if I do not shout whispers to my achilles heel that, they indeed, have a purpose – I succumb to the lie that I am nothing more than what anxiety shouts into my ears.

 

This semester I stepped way way way out my comfort zone, and enrolled into the honors program at my school, and I am currently taking two honors classes. In my honors english literature class there are 9 of us, including myself. Sixteen eyes that anxiety convinced me were waiting for me to fall on my face in more ways than one. Waiting for me to prove that my role as an honor student is missing qualifications. Waiting for me to say something that makes it clear that I have no idea what I am talking about. Waiting for me to make a fool out of myself — just how I felt in the tenth grade.

 

This class, and my other honors class, has put me into a position where I have no other choice, but to take my vulnerable, weak, and afraid heart and place it right at the feet of Jesus. Everyday, but especially, Tuesday and Thursday I wake up at 6 am (did I mention… this english class is at 8 am?), and I remind God that I am having a hard time with being seen, and I bargain with Him as to why He needs to give me His courage and strength. I bargain with God as though He does not already see the fears that try to defeat me. As though He did not open up doors to put me in these classes, because He knew it would stretch me. As though He does not see my pain or know my heart.

 

When Jesus died on the cross He knew that anxiety would try to invade my heart and mind on a daily basis from the time I was five years old. He knew what I would face, and He boldly died so that I would be able to walk through the anxiousness that puts me in a chokehold daily. He gave his flesh and bones, so that I would be able to look to Him — reach out my hands — and be given His peace.

 

If you read through this once more – you will see that I never referred to anxiety as “my anxiety,” because it is not mine. I will not claim an anxiety disorder, an eating disorder, or depression as my own, because the moment I hand it over to Jesus it is His.

And once it is His it dies. Once my fears and anxieties are no longer stuck in my heart and hands, and they are in Jesus’ — they die — just like Jesus did on the cross.
I am forever thankful that my brain has been wired differently — because through the struggle I am made brave through Jesus Christ. Through the pain I am being made new. The fear filled five year old girl that has transformed into the me I am today — is being transformed into a being of peace. A girl that lives loved.