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Archive for December 29, 2014

Your Happiness Project- A New Year’s Reflection

This week’s Media Monday comes to us from volunteer blog contributor Emily Champoux. Emily is a sophomore nutrition student at the UMN-Twin Cities. Thank you, Emily!

 

As the year begins to come to a close, I have officially begun to reminisce on the smiles, laughs, and tears that encompassed 2014. It sure has been eventful and, as many of you may agree, has gone by way too fast. Just last year, in the fall of 2013, I started my college adventure as a freshmen at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Now, I am preparing to enter 2015 in the midst of my sophomore year and to spend the spring semester and the beginning of the new year in Greece studying abroad. It’s starting to hit me that when I return at the end of May to the United States, the year will already be half over.

This in mind, winter break has allowed me the time I needed to reflect on this last year and come to terms with the things I was unable to complete. Maybe it was that book I never read, or the hike I never took, or even that delicious cake I pinned on Pinterest but never actually got to bake. Regardless, we all have some variation of unmet resolution or goal that most likely will be left unchecked in 2014.

This time of year and being home has reminded me of a book that I read a few years ago, The Happiness Project. Although it has been a while, this book is truly “one for the books”. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to read this book, the author, Gretchen Rubin, gives a detailed account of her year’s adventures by taking readers month by month in her pursuit of happiness through a “happiness project”. She describes a “happiness project” as “an approach to changing your life.” But as a part of the note to readers, Rubin acknowledges that the book is a documentation of her adventure to enhance joy within her own life and that a reader’s own venture may look very different in comparison to hers. Although I never started a happiness project of my own or came to some great epiphany about the way I wanted to live my life after reading this book, I was able to raise personal awareness regarding my own happiness.

Today, I came face to face with this book once again.  It was sitting right on my bookshelf, a coat of dust collected lightly on its cover. Seeing it, I was reminded of the  importance of my own happiness, not only today or over this last year, but moving forward into what will be 2015. Although getting me to laugh or smile is never a hard feat, personal happiness, as many of us know, is more than skin deep. Happiness is a concept that means something different to everyone and, for me, means looking forward to the pursuit of little moments in daily life. As cheesy as it sounds, embracing joy in the small things in life is what brings me true happiness. Whether it be that my vanilla cappuccino from Dunn Bros was perfectly frothy, or the weather outside was forgiving enough for an afternoon run in the middle of December, or even merely being able to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months, the small and simple things are what make for true happiness in my life.

I look to this new year as a way to improve the happiness I get out of my daily life. I see this time as a way to reflect and improve in the new year. Happiness, is something you have the opportunity to decide for yourself. So this year, I am choosing happiness. I am excited to pursue new spontaneous opportunities like late night pizza runs, impromptu rock climbing, or even reading a new and interesting novel in under a weekend because this year brings 365 days of unknown, and I am the one that gets to fill each day with something new and exciting. Ultimately, you have the power to do the same. You get to decide how you want to spend the next year of your life; so I challenge you to begin your own pursuit of happiness. For me, I’m beyond excited to do just that.

 

Sponsored by: Sebesta

 

 

Love Your Body: Volunteer-Made Cards

It’s that time of year when we all maybe could use a little good cheer. We’re going to be sharing cards volunteers made to help us all remember to practice self-love and self-care- now and always. We’ll be sharing these on social media, so you may see them across your Twitter & Facebook feeds!

You are beautiful

You are beautiful

"To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth... is potentially to have everything." -Joan Didion

“To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth… is potentially to have everything.” -Joan Didion

My body is my oasis. Its imperfections are what make it mine :)

My body is my oasis. Its imperfections are what make it mine 🙂

Appreciate yourself

Appreciate yourself

You are beautiful!!

You are beautiful!!

You shine! The human body is the best picture of the human soul. You are beautiful and shine brilliantly.

You shine! The human body is the best picture of the human soul. You are beautiful and shine brilliantly.

Real beauty isn't about symmetry or weight or makeup. It's about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.

Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup. It’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.

You are special

You are special

When you smile and your eyes sparkle, you are beautiful

When you smile and your eyes sparkle, you are beautiful

Maybe if we focused on building up the good instead of bringing out the flawed, other people might believe us when we tell them, "You are beautiful just the way you are."

Maybe if we focused on building up the good instead of bringing out the flawed, other people might believe us when we tell them, “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

Beautiful Silence- A Recovery Story

This week’s Love Your Body comes to us from volunteer blog contributor Kristine Strangis. Thank you, Kristine, for sharing your story!

 

Now I am ready branded

I was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa at age sixteen, but my symptoms really started to emerge when I was thirteen after I had been in a traumatic car accident while driving with my dad. That horrific moment changed me forever. I began to isolate myself, falling into the trap of an eating disorder in order to cope with the intense feelings that I kept bottled up inside, but, as I realize over time, this was a dangerous road that I, deep down, do not want to travel.

Right now I am twenty years old, and over the last seven years I have been constantly battling my eating disorder. I have been in and out of both inpatient and outpatient treatment, but this time is different. Now that I am an adult, I have made my own choice to check myself into outpatient recovery on my own. I have been forced to do treatment in the past, but now this is my choice. I have finally decided that I have had enough of this eating disorder. Now, I am truly passionate about recovery and I am more than ready to take back my life.

The journey continues and, as I slowly start to find myself again, I realize that this whole eating disorder is NOT worth it! No one should have to go through all of the pain, suffering, depression, anxiety, and turmoil that this deadly, manipulative disorder forces upon them when there is so much more to live for. We have a choice to let this disorder go and live our lives to our fullest. Why am I so serious about this? Because choosing an eating disorder is a death sentence. The universe is not going to give you a free pass to have an eating disorder and be happy, it just does not work this way. Recovery is not all rainbows and roses, it is hard work, but truly rewarding and definitely possible.

I am now dedicated and passionate about recovery and especially helping others throughout their journeys, but I always seem to slip when I focus on recovery myself. I tend to do great with recovery when I start but, as time goes on and I start getting freedom back, I start to get lazy with my recovery, giving into urges and using symptoms. I start thinking that nothing will happen to me. I was so naive. I am still young, thinking that I am invincible, when I am not. I learned this on November 25th, 2014 when my whole world came to a stop.

I was rushing through my life, on a binge of nonstop work before my holiday break came, which is typically an eating disorder pattern that I tend to fall into. I had promised my treatment team that I was not going to give into my eating disorder before the holiday, and I was committed, but, one moment, just one moment, I had slipped. In these moments, I am like a drug addict, doing whatever I can to get that next high. I knew that I would pay for this, but I didn’t think it would be in such a horrific way. That day, I ended up getting in a car accident. Fortunately, I was not hurt, but, just a second later and I would have been killed. My whole front bumper was destroyed; the other car T-boned me on my side, it all happened so fast. I was shaken up and scared to death, but this was the perfect reminder that this disorder is serious.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. The fact that I had survived the car accident when I was thirteen coupled with the recent accident means that I am meant to do great things for others, to tell my story so that people can take this disorder seriously. I gave into my eating disorder, and the universe snapped me out of it. A car accident is one of the major factors that caused me to slip into this disorder, and another car accident is going to be what snaps me out of it. I do not know why things like this happen, but I do believe that it all is for a reason, and that my reason is to help others. I will do whatever it takes, I will dedicate my life to ending this disorder. The universe has given me many signs, and I’m sure that you have gotten these signs too. Listen to your heart deep down and ask yourself, is this disorder worth it? Is it worth all of the pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, and darkness that it forces upon you? You have the choice to end this. I am angry at this eating disorder, I’m angry at myself for giving into its irrational lies, and I am ending this now. Finally, I am coming out of the fog and letting go.

This is my story, and I hope you all use it as inspiration to overcome your own eating disorder, or any mental illness that you are facing. I know that you probably hear this a lot, but recovery is possible, I am living proof. My eating disorder has kept me silent for so long, but now it is time to speak up. My voice is finally being heard, and I hope that you all will join me in the fight because, as you probably know from experience, none of us can do this alone. We need each other to grow and stay strong. We are all very strong and insightful people and, if we put our minds to it, we can overcome this eating disorder together. We are all incredible people and each and every one of us is meant for great things. Just believe in yourself. Please, never give up because you are worth it.

One Size Does Not Fit All

This week’s Media Monday was written by volunteer blog contributor Caitlyn Rosellini. Thanks, Cait!

Happy Holidays! This is my absolute favorite time of the year, as I am sure it is for many of you readers. Christmas trees are going up, houses are decorated in festive lighting, and the simple cheer that fills the air makes it hard not to smile everywhere I go. While this is the time of year I patiently wait for, it is also the time of year I dread in some ways. Holiday shopping can be difficult, especially regarding apparel in the eating disorder or recovery community.

So, my housemate Katie and I were doing what we do best, online shopping (I wish this could be a major at Gonzaga) when I heard her yell in frustration, “ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!” I knew immediately she was scrolling through the pages of one of our favorite stores, Brandy Melville, and that her growing frustration was not an isolated incident. When we lived in Florence last year Katie and I lived about a block away from Brandy Melville, and we were constantly driven to their seasonal colors and trendy cuts, however “one size fits all” clearly meant “one size fits size 00-8 maybe depending on what the designer was feeling, stop asking questions and wear it, ok?” I mean, when I cannot fit a pant leg over my ankle I think we have a problem.

Sizes, in general, are shifting more and more away from the realistic. A few weeks ago I had the horrific experience of bearing witness to a tag that stated its size was 000. Making clothing one size fits all only goes to further the disconnect between people and their bodies; what proves healthy and normal, and what becomes obsessive and life threatening. Coincidentally, I came across this BuzzFeed article illuminating just how heinous this idea is, and it shows how one size fits all is quite simply unrealistic. There is no one size, there is no one body, there is no one experience; society needs to stop putting us in a box of “ones” and allow us to break the mold a little and embody exactly who we are and what size our bodies are healthiest.

After researching if the same issue existed in the “men’s” apparel world, I could not come up with any thing equivalent. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist, though, and I am sure there are certain aspects of clothing that work to hold masculine people into the same confines in terms of their bodies. I am interested in what folks who identify on this spectrum have to say regarding this, and how they have dealt with similar issues with apparel.

In the end, Katie and I gave up on the website and talked about how damaging this size category can be. So, what needs to be done in this industry? What can we do to stop the one size fits all phenomenon that appears to be growing in popularity?

 

Sponsored by:

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Recovery

This week’s Love Your Body post comes from volunteer blog contributor Holly Taylor. Thank you, Holly, for sharing your story. We appreciate it <3

If you’re interested in writing for our blog, please contact Julia at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

branded

 

I developed an eating disorder out of desperation. I saw the difficulties of my life swirl around me, but each time that I grasped for a solution the problems seemed to grow larger. I felt smaller, powerless. A thick fog of doubt and depression seeped into my mind, and I became unable to distinguish myself from all that overwhelmed me. I began to feel not only that I was not enough, but that I was nothing. From this fog I conjured a way to transform the complications, the pain, and the chaos into a much more contained kind of disorder – the kind that only cares about being thin. Suddenly, I controlled everything. In this very small world I created, there was nothing I couldn’t handle. The illusion of safety that anorexia provided was both alluring and deadly.

Choosing to live has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Learning how to live has proven even more difficult. There is no road map. That does not mean that it is an impossible or undesirable task. Eventually, through great effort and great loss, I realized that I had not trapped all of my problems, but that they had trapped me. Anorexia could only perpetuate my pain and fears by holding me in a place of powerlessness and isolation. Recovery came in fits and starts. I finally chose to let other people onto my recovery path. I found a treatment facility that I connected to and that I felt safe in. I also had to remove some people from my recovery process – people that only reinforced the shame and blame that I already felt. I began to unpack my anger about sexism and the objectification of feminized people. I strengthened my identity as a feminist, and sought out empowering literature. All in all, I began to open my eyes to the possibility that I was powerful, lovable, and whole despite my struggles and imperfections. I clung to the possibility of hope. I had been afraid of it for a very long time, and I didn’t stop being afraid then. I just started embracing the fear as an alternative to the all-consuming hell that was my eating disorder. I looked into myself, the person I had so long ago lost to that fog. I did not always like what I saw. What I learned was to love what I saw – by accepting it. All of the beauty and pain within me and outside of me became real as I brought the walls of anorexia down, and I learned to love what was real. Every feeling – painful or pleasant – meant that I was alive, which was immeasurably better than being numb. It still is.

I have spent the past 5 or so years in recovery, which is to say that I’ve truly been recovering my lost self. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time to my eating disorder that can never be recovered. I accept my regrets about the time lost. I also know that time keeps marching on, and that from now on I’d like to join in. I have had to gather myself along the way, all the while moving forward. I have found pieces of myself in the people who love me. I have found pieces of myself while hiking, with all of my senses open to the world around me, rather than focused on the imaginary world of anorexia. I have found pieces of myself in times of vulnerability and fear. I have found pieces of myself in sharing my story.  I hold the pieces together with the new trust I have in myself – the trust that I can choose to love and take care of myself rather than to punish and diminish myself. I know there is no turning back on life now, because I am so busy collecting these pieces and rearranging my masterpiece. It looks a bit rough around the edges, but I am proud of it. I am not ashamed that I struggle. Everyone struggles. I am glad that my experience can shine light on a disorder that is often misunderstood. Most of all, I hope for my experience to be a beacon for others on a journey back to life. I guarantee that there is hope, and that when you find the strength to go looking for life, it will be looking back at you. It has been waiting for you the whole time.