Family. Food. Beautiful Spaces. Healing. Travel. Living Free.
It’s been almost a year since my last post. Which I know may seem weird to a lot of you considering this is my first post as Shine On Beautiful. I once-upon-a-time had a blog I called The Vegan Flower Child; however, I felt like I needed to start new considering what I have been up to this past year. I promise, I have a pretty good reason.
When I started my first blog I had the best of intentions. I wanted to share vegan living with anyone and everyone. I wanted people to understand what living free and loving life was about. The sad part was I was not living free and I was definitely not truly loving life. Although I was eating vegan, I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t happy. But now, my intentions have become more clear and true to what they mean. I not only want to share all the amazing food vegans eat, the incredible life I am living today and what living FREE really means to me, but I also want to promote awareness on a very sensitive, yet important topic.
In January of 2013 I disclosed to my husband that I had an eating disorder. Before I keep going, I am going to refer to my eating disorder as Anamia. Colin named her that to help me separate the eating disorder from Amy (myself). And yes, Anamia is a total bitch.
Anyways, one of the worst parts about Anamia (well, actually the entire situation was horrible) was that I hid it from Colin since the first day we met. We met a little over 5 years ago when I was 17 and we starting dating soon after. My eating disorder began right after I turned 14. Telling Colin, admitting I had a problem, was the hardest part of recovery. As soon as the secret erupted out of me (with lots and lots of tears) it became real. I had no idea though what 2013 would have in store for me.
2013 was a wild year. It wasn’t until March, after we moved from Spartanburg, SC to Wilmington, NC, that I started out-patient treatment. Colin and I toyed with the idea of inpatient treatment while we lived in Spartanburg but I was determined that I could recover going a different route. I just couldn’t be away from my family for that long. Moving to Wilmington was a huge blessing. Even though the way it happened was frustrating and really tested Colin’s and my relationship. I really do believe everything happens for a reason.
I started seeing a nutritionist in April who accepted my vegan lifestyle and didn’t try to change it. She is amazing! She helped me conquer so many food fears; she encouraged me daily to be the best I could for myself and Colin; she never gave up on me even when I thought there was no hope.
Along with my nutritionist, I saw a handful of therapists until I found the right one. Luckily, my nutritionist and therapist both work at the same eating disorder treatment facility. I didn’t start consistently seeing my individual therapist until August. She has helped me overcome so many trust issues, work on self-esteem and body image problems, manage and work through my OCD, and she has helped me find Amy. I am so grateful for that.
I also started group therapy and those girls are the most incredible people I know. Each one of them is fighting for their independence from their individual eating disorders. Each one of them is strong and wiser beyond their years. I am so incredibly blessed to know them. They motivate me and help me when I stumble. I owe so much of my recovery to them.
Over the past year there has been a lot of anger, sadness, temper-tantrums, fear, pain, and uncomfortability, but I am going to leave that for another post. I want to focus on the awesome things that happen once you reach recovery. For instance, I have been discovering what Amy likes to do. I have found that I love to read, especially fiction! I used to hate reading; I couldn’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes without my thoughts being directed towards food. My mind was consumed with it, like “how am I going to get out of eating my next meal,” “will there be a bathroom around,” “what are the calories in this,” “how much should I work out to burn this off plus some,” and so much more. My mind was constantly racing with thoughts of food and working out. As of today, January 19, 2014, I have read two books and I am working on a third (and it’s only been 19 days!).
I love taking walks! I love my dogs! I love riding bicycles!
Another weird thing is that I love planting! As a child, I hated being dirty. I had/have OCD (which is very common with eating disorders) and being dirty or dirt in general was one of the number one things I couldn’t handle. Recently, I started some lemon plants from seeds that I got out of an organic lemon, I acquired an aloe vera plant and I just re-potted my African Mask. I love my plants like I love my dogs! They are apart of me.
I also found that I really enjoy baking! It’s a challenge and it really gets my creative juices flowing. This last year I have baked a ton. A lot of it was for challenge foods but the more I baked the more I enjoyed the food I was eating! The last 2 months of 2013 was when I really started baking for me. When I wanted cookies, I baked cookies. When I wanted bagels, I baked bagels. It just love it so much!
But most of all, I have found so much joy in my relationship with Colin now that Anamia is gone! We laugh more, we fight less, we cuddle, we kiss, we hug, we play, we dance, we sing together, we just enjoy each other’s company. My moods are more stable now that I am feeding my brain, which in turn makes me a lot more fun to be around. I am not as uptight and cranky. I can go out on a date with my husband and focus on the conversation that we are having.
One of my favorite things about being recovered is that I have room for relationships. Anamia secluded me from the world for so long, too long. I thrive around people. I have friends now. As my eating disorder progressed I lost my friends. I lost all connections I had to the outside world. My life was revolved around Anamia. It was terrible.
I can also feel now! When I was consumed with Anamia, she numbed all of my emotions. I didn’t really know what happy or sad was. I had no clue what it meant to be truly excited or angry. As a kid, I used her to numb out the pain and anger I felt towards my family. Then it grew. I became dependant on her. She helped me handle stress and the insecurities that I felt. Today, I have new coping skills. I relish in the fact that I can feel! When I am sad, all I can think to myself is ‘dang, I love feeling!” Not many people can say that, but it’s so incredible!
I could go on forever about the positive aspects to recovery. The list would never end! I love my life so much more now. I love Colin deeper. I enjoy the little things, like coffee with a friend, the way my pups love to cuddle, a good book, my husband’s kisses, and so much more. My life has just begun, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.