Tag Archives: recovery

What anorexia intervention feels like

IMG_20140117_090116She doesn’t want help because she thinks treatment will make her fat. 

What?! No. No one was allowed to know this. This was something I kept so hidden that I barely acknowledged it was there. How dare this woman know the ugly that lived in the mired muck of my soul. How dare she expose it! How. Dare. She.

I felt betrayed. Exposed. Hurt. Unsafe. Violated. Undermined. Angry.  Intervention feels like crap.

I was a wreck. The dam holding back my anxiety crumbled. I was crying and hyperventilating and angry and shooting evil-eye laser darts at my beloved husband, who, I felt somehow, had betrayed me. I hated him for calling the counseling center (on speaker phone) and answering all the questions honestly. I couldn’t believe the audacity of the woman on the phone who called me out:

  • Your wife needs help.
  • She’s on the cusp of needing hospitalization; her bmi is on the edge.
  • We wouldn’t put her in a support group until she was ready.
  • She doesn’t want help because she thinks treatment will make her fat.
  • She’s terrified; deep down she wants help.
  • She will be okay but she needs intervention now.
  • Tamara would be a great counselor for her.
  • We have a dietitian that can work with her dietary needs and food fears.

I can’t remember the rest of the afternoon. I do remember one thing, though. I was left with a choice: Do I accept the intervention and say yes to help, or do I say no?

The next day I felt exhausted and scared. I picked up the phone and dialed the number. Intervention lady answered.
“Um. Yeah. This is Leanne Sype. My husband called yesterday.” I started to cry.
“Hi, Leanne, yes. I remember. How can I help you?”
Through tears I said, “You said I didn’t want help because I think treatment will make me fat. Well, you’re right. And the fact that you know that makes me want to punch you in the face. You’re not supposed to know. But the fact that you know also tells me that maybe you can actually help me. I’d like to make an appointment.”
“You’re going to be okay. We can help you.”
I went into treatment the following Monday on November 3, 2014.
///

What saying “yes” to intervention feels like

Ladybug
Have you ever rescued a ladybug? You know when you see a ladybug in danger, you so carefully lead the ladybug onto your hand or you even gingerly pick it up, so careful not to hurt it. And then you let it rest in your hand while you carry it over to place a safety?

Think about how scary that must be for the ladybug–to be lifted and carried by a giant hand, not knowing or understanding what is happening or where it is going. That little ladybug has zero control. How helpless it must feel!

I felt like that ladybug. I was resting in God’s hand while He carried me to a place of safety. While I knew the Hand that carried me was God’s, I was terrified as to where we were going. I had zero control. I could have lifted my wings and flew away, and trust me, in those days of waiting for Monday to arrive, my wings fluttered. But I wanted to be obedient and I wanted to let myself, for once, trust–to let God have control and let myself be carried.

I wish I could tell you that it felt like a glorious ride through the breeze. It wasn’t. I was a nervous wreck. If there was sand covering the floors of my house, you would have seen a well worn path in a giant circle from my front entry, through my dining room and into my living room where I had paced and paced. Yet, I had a sense of peace in being completely surrendered. I was so tired and ready to be carried–and to finally land in a place where I didn’t have to worry about food anymore.

I am six months into recovery now. I don’t worry about food. I am no longer in danger. Am I completely healed? Not yet. But I am happy and alive and hopeful and back to living life without anorexia as my main focus anymore.

So if you’re reading this, scared to see what help might mean, I can tell you the Hand that carries you has a destination of peace, safety, and healing for you. Healing is hard and uncomfortable. I’m not going to lie. However, as you heal there is freedom… from fear, from food,from pain, from uncertainty. I promise.

And if you are the one who is thinking about an intervention for someone you love… do it. It’s not going to feel good. Should your loved on say “yes,” know that it will be a hard road to healing and they’re going to need your patience, grace, and love. But it’s going to be worth the journey when they come back to life. I promise.

Why I am afraid of "fat"

I’m still afraid of looking fat.

This is where the bulk of my shame lives as I continue my recovery from anorexia. Nearly six months into my treatment, I am happy to say:

1) that I am up to a healthy weight (though I don’t know what that weight is and don’t care to know).

2) my metabolism is healed (did you know dieting and starving destroy your metabolism? I didn’t.).

3) my body cues are functioning on their own (meaning I know–for real–when I am hungry and when I’m full; when something sounds good and when it doesn’t).

4) I am eating intuitively, which means I eat according to when and what my body tells me in terms of what it needs and what it wants. No rules; no invitation for others to have a say.

These are huge leaps of restorative progress that have happened in a relatively short amount of time, considering I have had anorexia for 13+ years.

Yet, I still have an eating disorder. If you have ever looked at a skinny girl and said, “Dang, she needs some meat on her bones. Give that girl a cheeseburger,” I am here to tell you this disease has nothing to do with food or weight–and please, I kindly request, do all of us “skinny” girls a solid and stay quiet because those words just feed our disorder.

All of my progress is in long-term danger because I still fear “looking fat.” This is perplexing to me because on December 6, 2014, I wrote the following in my journal:

“I fear being ugly and invalid; society says fat is invalid and ugly. Therefore I cannot be this way. I have fallen ill by playing into society’s definition of fat. I bet “fat” isn’t even in God’s dictionary. I can’t define “fat” on my own because I am stuck between two worlds–> God’s and this fallen earthly place. I know God sees people beyond their size. Size literally does not matter to God. The condition of my heart matters; right now my heart is infected. I see it now from God’s world. Yet,God still sees me as valuable and lovable.

IMG_20150419_082316In my fallen world, infected minds have determined that size does matter and it reflects how good or not good we are (“skinny” is beautiful which makes skinny marketable, profitable, desirable–valuable. If you’re not skinny, then you’re not valuable).

This completely contradicts God’s perspective. 

I must decide who I will trust. Will I continue trying to define a word that simply doesn’t exist in God’s world? Will I keep striving to appeal to a definition outlined by infected hearts and minds? Or, instead, will I throw this word away entirely and focus only on the things of which affect–grow, purify, honor–the condition of my heart?”

Well, given my progress in health, we can see what I chose, right? But I confess to you, dear reader, I still fear looking fat. I feel ashamed by this. And frustrated. Why can’t my eyes see beauty when I look in the mirror? Why can’t my spirit feel confidence when I dress in the morning? Why can’t I let go of “fat” and “skinny” when I know these ideas don’t exist in God’s kingdom?

Idolatry.

God, the Father in Heaven, the Son in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in my heart, is no doubt my God. Yet, He isn’t my only only god because I still idolize my body. Part of me still stands with the cultural ideal, IMG_20150419_105452worshiping beauty and perfection as defined by a society that places value on what we manufacture for our physical body. I can’t let go of “fat” and “skinny” because I still place more value on my body image rather than God’s image. This is a hard dose of humility to swallow today.

I am not manufactured. I am created. . . uniquely created by a perfect God who made me in His image. I believe this, but clearly not with all of my heart because I still worry about “looking fat” and thus having little to no value (interest,validity, etc.) to other people. This is a dark depth that still needs transformation. I surrender to this truth today.

I can’t fix this today. I can’t fix this, period. God has to. My own self-efforts for change lead to manufacturing something that doesn’t align with what God has already created in and for me. He will heal this broken part of me; I got down on my knees in tears asking for forgiveness and asking Him to take this part of me and change it. He will. And when He does, the danger of relapsing into anorexia will become less of a threat. Cheeseburger or no, my eating disorder does not hinge upon food but rather the belief and deep understanding of where my value lies.

 

 

Noticeably Imperfect

The reality of recovery is this: The healthier we get, the more noticeably imperfect we become. This is really uncomfortable for me, and today I find myself sitting in depression because of this truth.

Addiction of any kind, but specifically, for me, anorexia (the addiction to starving my body), serves as a sort of protection against being noticeably reflectingimperfect. I’ve been imperfect my whole life, and unfortunately in my formidable years, was bullied into believing that because of my imperfections I was ugly, invalid, unworthy, and unacceptable. I was outspoken and brave for a little while, which made things worse for me, and by eighth grade I placed myself along the wall where I wouldn’t be noticed as much.

As I entered into my adult years, the bullying ended but the world supported my invalidity and ugliness through cleverly disguised messaging : “Oh it’s okay. Nobody is perfect, but here are 500 billion ways to be perfect.” The world is filled with information, diets, medication, tips, products, and “secrets” that will make me better, to perfect those things that supposedly aren’t so great. So sure, I am not perfect but I am not good enough as I am either.

It’s maddening.

I had coped with the madness by developing an eating disorder and an obsession with perfectionism, hiding my imperfect self behind what I thought was more acceptable according to the way of the world–a super thin perfectly beautiful body, with a quiet and agreeable disposition and orderly lifestyle. This (seemingly) served me well for the last 13 years or so, until I reached a fork in my journey and was faced with two choices: die or recover.

I chose recovery. With recovery comes the revealing and rediscovering of the girl I had hidden away and had mostly forgotten about. As she begins to emerge, I find myself ashamed and uneasy about my imperfections and my voice (the part of me that speaks my place in this world); I am scared to death to let me show and be heard… because remember, I’ve been told my imperfections are ugly, invalid, and unacceptable by a harsh world. But I can’t have recovery and hide at the same time–if I choose recovery then I choose to be noticeably imperfect.

IMG_20150317_090306I’m discovering and learning to accept that I have a normal-sized body with curves (that thrives on food with carbohydrates, sugar, and fats), dry skin, an insatiable sweet-tooth, and a trick stomach that’s easily upset; I have a type-A personality that notices details, anxiously desires order, and doesn’t handle stress well; I am a woman in love with Jesus and hears/obeys his voice on a regular basis (this alone makes me wacky in a worldly sense); I adore the people who sit sheepishly alone on the wall whom the world deems as strange and useless; I have a nasally voice that, when I’m feeling brave, speaks strongly against the tide of popular thinking for the sake of Truth; I’m a mother who doesn’t like volunteering in her kids’ school (there, I said it.); and I’m a writer who constantly trips over the line into verbosity because I have a lot to say about stuff.

When I get scared and feel completely unworthy of boldly taking my place out-of-place in the world, like I feel today, I am tempted to run back into the disorder–to go back to the hidden path I walked so certainly for the last 13 years. But it leads to death. I can’t go back to that. I don’t want to go back to that. But I don’t want to be noticeably imperfect either because it makes me vulnerable.

So I sit down in the middle of the road, depressed, and cry.

It’s then that I am comforted by my (seemingly wacky) friend, Jesus, who says:

Remember that it’s the world that tells you your imperfectness–your unique humanness as Leanne–is not good enough.  But, My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I know the plans I have for you… plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).  He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), [so] do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)