I hate feelings

I’m not going to sugar-coat this: I hate feelings. Well, let me be a little more specific– I hate every feeling except happiness. I know, this isn’t what you’d expect to see on an eating disorder recovery blog… after all, I’ve previously committed to only writing positive things about recovery. However, I feel like I owe you all a pearl of wisdom that is not all “rainbows and butterflies” because at the end of the day, I am human, just like you. I, too, am a work in progress!

Why do I hate feelings? From an early age, I was a people pleaser. I sacrificed showing my own negative emotions for the sake of being responsible, pleasant, and easy-going. If I was mad, I took it out on myself through starvation and exercise. If I was sad, I held myself together until I was sure everyone else was asleep, and then I would allow myself to cry until I drifted off to sleep too. If I was anxious, I tried my best not to show it, because I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my “annoying” feelings. Nobody told me my anxiety was annoying, but I was annoyed at myself and did not want to risk drawing attention to myself and my feelings in any way, shape, or form.

Despite many years in therapy, I still don’t like my feelings. I’m working on this. It is my last major hurdle in my own recovery. I will get to a place where feelings are no longer the enemy, just as food is no longer my enemy. I’m sharing my struggle with you because it is so important to give yourself the grace to grow. I debated sharing this blog for fear of coming off as an impostor. However, I am a big believer that nobody is perfect, and I have no intentions of appearing like the golden child of recovery for you. I’m doing my best and learning every day, and that is why I’m sharing my journey with you.

So this holiday season, give yourself the gift of grace. You are a work in progress, on your way to another world where Ed doesn’t exist and feelings are just a normal part of life. I’ll be here right by your side, sharing honest blog posts about eating disorder recovery and encouraging you along your own journey. You are beautiful and courageous and have so much to be proud of! Keep fighting the good fight– together, we will win.

Change is a good thing!

Guess who’s back? I apologize for my leave of absence. These past few weeks have been a time of beautiful and exciting change, and I needed time to meditate and reflect. I had to give myself space for self-care before I could come back and share my message of hope and self-love with all of you. Now, I am ready to resume my role as a recovery blogger and share with you the major life change that has happened.

As you know, I have spent the last few years preparing to become a therapist, with the hope of treating adolescents and adults with eating disorders. While this dream of mine was promising, I started to have feelings of doubt. After many years of being in therapy myself, I grew scared of spending the rest of my life in a therapy office, even if that office was my own. Quite frankly, I was burnt out.

I began to explore other options, ultimately deciding to go back to my childhood dream of being a lawyer. With every thought of a future in law came a new wave of excitement. After many hours of reflection and prayer, I felt confident that I should pursue a law degree.

Where does my passion for mental health come into play in this new career path? Don’t worry, this passion has not faded at all. I’m still deciding the exact path I’d like to pursue, but I’m considering a career where I can fight for insurance benefits for those with eating disorders or gain more rights for mentally ill people. I have even considered representing sexual assault victims in court and striving to make the reporting process easier for such victims on college campuses. At this point, the world is my oyster.

I’m sharing my life update with you because I think there’s a lot to learn from my experience. So many of us are afraid of change– it’s scary, uncomfortable, and anxiety-producing. However, change is also a good thing– a very good thing. Change opens doors we didn’t even know existed. I was terrified to let go of my extremely diligently thought-out plan of becoming a therapist. I had intentions to open a private practice by the time I was thirty years old, and had big plans to make major differences in the treatment of eating disorders.

Now, I still have potential to make a lasting difference in the field of mental health. However, the level of impact I may or may not have is not the most important factor. The crucial part of making a change is following your heart and listening to your inner child. My inner child knew without a doubt that she wanted to be a lawyer. When I re-routed and went back to this potential career, I felt relief and a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in years. You can, too.

At the end of the day, my first obligations are to my own wellbeing. I can’t help other people if my needs are not being met too. Now, I can follow my dream, and in the process of chasing this dream, I can help lots of people along the way. I am at peace with myself. Change is a good thing.


Netflix and Chill

I could feel my chest start to cave in, suffocating my lungs and threatening to crush me from the outside in. I felt as if 10,000 pound boulders were on my shoulders, just waiting for one little misstep to cause all my pride to crumble into nothing. In short, I felt the stress of demanding, elite university life, and I was at risk of having a complete and utter breakdown.

After my last class of the week, I forced myself to put on comfy clothes, hop in bed, and watch Netflix. Not just a little 20 minute Friends episode– a 45 minute Grey’s Anatomy one. I was not allowed to pause it to check my email, make a mental checklist of everything I had to do that weekend, or worry about grad school. I committed to 45 minutes of pure relaxation and unproductiveness, and it was amazing.

Sometimes, we need to turn off our strange belief that in order to be a functioning member of society, we must do 20 different things, all at once, perfectly. I still catch myself putting unnecessary pressure on my academics and other engagements, and I repeatedly have to put on the breaks and breathe. I remind myself that relaxation and some amount of laziness is a good thing. And now, I’m reminding you.

If you start to feel the weight of stress– whether from recovery, your treatment plan, school, work, sports, etc– stop what you’re doing, hop in bed, and watch a show. It is your primary duty to take care of yourself, because if you are not taken care of, you can’t do everything else in your life at full potential. So when you’re stressed, remember these three words: “Netflix and chill”.

Gaining Weight Was the best thing ever

I sat in my dietitian’s office on the verge of tears. She had just informed me that I was still not at an appropriate weight for my age, height, and activity level. I was so frustrated– I had been eating according to my meal plan, only dancing when required (team practices), and even adding in some things like ice cream and french fries.


The frustration, however, was nothing compared to my sheer terror at the thought of gaining any more weight. I thought I would be miserable at my dietitian’s magic number. Every calorie seemed like a death sentence.


But then, I put on the weight. I continued to eat as my dietitian instructed and minimize exercise, and I eventually got up to the magic number– the number I was horrified to even think about just a couple of months before. Guess what? My world did not come crashing down.


Yes, I was initially insecure and uncomfortable. I looked at old Instagram pictures and yearned for my old body. I had thoughts of restricting and overexercising again, but this time, I chose not to act on them. “Let’s give this a shot” I thought to myself.


After some time at my new healthy weight, I discovered all the joys that come with being weight-restored. I felt strong, energetic, and happier than I had been in a long time. My head was clear again (no more brain fog!) and I became more social. The biggest shock is that I gained confidence in my body. I actually really liked the way my body looked at this weight that used to be so scary for me!


Yes, I do still have bad body image days. However, I know now that my body is exactly where it needs to be, regardless of how I feel about it’s appearance. I celebrate the good body image days and roll with the bad ones, but at the end of the day, I appreciate my healthy body for carrying me through this crazy thing called life.


No One is You-er than You

Sometimes, I lose sight of my purpose. I forget who I am. I yearn to be someone else, to be successful like someone else, to look, act, and go through life like someone else. But I will never be anyone else. I’m starting to be okay with that.


Sometimes, it’s hard to be so passionate about something and know that I am slowly reaching my goals, but then see a friend get there so much faster. I think to myself  “Wow, if only you were like her, you could go so far”. But I’m getting there my own way. And that’s okay.


Sometimes, I feel insecure. I want to crawl under my covers and never leave my room, because it’s easier to hide than to face the pangs of jealousy that hit me like a brick wall the second I see another student get a better grade on a paper. But I worked hard for that grade and I am still a great student; I don’t need to be perfect.


Do you ever feel like someone else is just doing life so much better than you? How do you respond? Do you let the jealousy take over and doubt every aspect of your being, or do you shrug it off and walk away? Perhaps you are somewhere in between. Whatever your response may be, know that comparison is the thief of joy.


If you truly want to be happy, whether you are seeking recovery or not, you must let go of comparisons. Free yourself from envy. You are the best you I could ever hope to meet; you don’t need to change a thing. So embrace the imperfect human you are and share the gift of your personality, your energy, with the world. Trust me, the world is a better place because of you– so don’t try to change or diminish any of your beautiful light.

Learning to say “no”

“Mom? I can’t do this anymore. I want to go home. Please, can I withdraw from college this semester?” I tried to say what I needed to say through sobs over the phone with my mom, but I could barely get the words out. Earlier that day, I took a trip to the ER. Why? I was so stressed out that I had a nervous breakdown.


Let’s back up a little bit… why was I so anxious and stressed? Well, last Spring semester, I took on maximum course load, worked an on-campus job, battled some health problems, and held two executive positions all while trying to re-adjust to American life after an incredible semester abroad. Moreover, I was determined to get a 4.0 GPA that semester, so I stayed up until 3 AM perfecting my homework. Long story short, I cracked under the pressure.


The real kicker is, nobody else put that pressure on me. I did this to myself. I worked myself to the point of exhaustion and nervous breakdowns and nearly had to leave school. And you know what saved me from this path of self destruction? Learning to say, “NO”.


My parents insisted I drop a class and quit my job. After a long debate, I did as they suggested. Immediately, my stress level went down 50 notches. I began to cut off toxic relationships and surround myself with positivity… and my stress continued to decrease. This semester, I gave up one of my executive positions and I am continuing to appreciate the power of saying no.


Learning to say no and even quit is something I needed to incorporate into my life in order to be in an honest recovery. Now, I feel more comfortable in sticking up for myself when my body (and brain) tell me I need a break. When you find your voice, you will be empowered like never before; all it takes is a two-letter word.



Birthdays are Important!

So, today is my 22nd birthday! According to societal norms, 22 really isn’t anything special (unless you are a Taylor Swift fan… in that case, there’s a whole song about it!). However, I believe every birthday is a big deal and deserves to be celebrated. Especially, dear readers, when you’ve dealt with a life-threatening illness like eating disorders.


When I was a young teenager, anorexia nearly took my life. I was dangerously underweight, malnourished, and depressed. I was surviving on barely any food intake and was hospitalized multiple times. I didn’t think I’d live to see my Sweet 16, let alone make it to college.


After the darkest days of my life, I had an epiphany– life is truly a gift, and I needed to celebrate it. For this reason, I really do celebrate every birthday as if it’s the best thing to have happened to me. Because in a way, my birthdays are the best thing that continues to happen to me… and not just because of the presents and well-wishes.


My birthday– the gift of another year to tack onto my achievement list– is the best present I could ask for. When I think back to the days the professionals were concerned I wouldn’t make it, I feel gratitude that I am still here today. I am a survivor, and every year older solidifies my remarkable progress in physical and mental health.


So, I’m going to enjoy my birthday. I’m going to live life to the fullest and celebrate with my closest friends tonight. I have joy in my heart and gratitude in my soul because I am just so happy to be given the gift of 22 years! Happy birthday to me 🙂

Published on the Mighty!

I think it is important to celebrate successes in recovery, whether big or small. Recently, I received an opportunity to write for the Eating Recovery Center and have my piece published on The Mighty– and I am ecstatic! As I begin my senior year at Elon University, I can’t help but think back to when I was a little freshman and marvel at how far I’ve come.


I entered college in a good place as far as recovery is concerned, but I quickly discovered that the demands of university life are much harder than high school. Academically, I was thriving. However, my social anxiety became heightened and I turned to old behaviors to cope. I didn’t know how to branch out and make lasting friendships because I didn’t even really know who I was. In a nutshell, I was lost.


However, I used the summer after freshman year of college to revamp my recovery and get to know myself. This is something I wish everyone would take the chance to do, whether you have an eating disorder or not. By the end of those three incredible summer months, I walked a little taller, held my head higher, and had a fiery passion in my heart that would fuel many successes.


Now, I’m a senior. I am more confident than I ever dreamed possible, I have those deep and beautiful friendships I always yearned for, and I am so proud of the person I am. Truth is, I could not have written for the ERC or the Mighty 3 years ago, but I am proof that amazing progress is possible in a relatively short time and that anyone can find her voice, no matter how lost she might be.


I don’t often write about things like this, but I thought it might be nice for y’all to see that I, too, am a work in progress and I am learning every day. I’m not a recovery expert, but I push myself to do better with each passing day and I really am so happy with my progress. I believe each and every one of you are capable of self love and awesome confidence!


If you want to check out the Mighty article I wrote, here’s the link!


Body Posi– Anytime, any Size

The mirror is a funny thing. Sometimes, I think I look like a supermodel, and that I should get a killer Instagram picture ASAP. But most of the time, I think I look like a hot mess… I hate my hair, my skin has broken out, I see rolls of fat, and I just want to cry. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve seen a truthful representation of my figure in the mirror in a very, very long time.


However, I choose to love my body regardless of what the mirror reflects that day. Being body positive doesn’t necessarily mean I always like what I see. Practicing body positivity just means I appreciate my body for where it’s at, and all that it does for me. The simple fact that my body is still alive after all I put it through in my eating disorder is amazing, and that is why I don’t allow the reflection in the mirror to hold any power over me.


In our culture, many women struggle with body image issues, and it breaks my heart. I believe women are beautiful at every shape and size, because beauty goes deeper than the surface. We have to stop judging what is beautiful and “healthy” versus what is not, because every body is different, and every body is gorgeous.


That judgment includes your own body. When you choose to stop assigning value to your jeans size or your image in the mirror, you will experience a freedom like never before. I admit, I lost sight of body positivity this summer when my body composition changed, and my size became a part of many of my conversations. I was a slave to numbers again, and I did not like the person I was reverting to. I chose to free myself again from judgment, and I am so much happier now.


Body positivity can be experienced at any time, at any size. All it takes is a commitment to live your life free from judgment and to celebrate beauty from the inside out. I have made this commitment and I will never look back. You can, too!



“Get over yourself”

I sat in the same therapist’s office I had been visiting weekly for years. I complained yet again that I had body image issues and I didn’t want to recover from anorexia because I was already fat. That’s right—at a BMI that was well below the “healthy” range, I believed I was fat. I was willing to starve myself to death rather than follow my meal plan because at that moment in time, being skinny was all that mattered to me.


I went on, and on, and on… “Sarah, I cannot eat because I’m fat. It’s that simple. I don’t want to recover and I will NOT recover if it means I have to eat. Normal people can eat. I’m not normal. I’m special. I don’t need food.” And do you know what Sarah’s response was? “Get over yourself!”


Yup, my therapist told me to get over myself. It sounds harsh, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I was slowly killing myself with every excuse known to man, and Sarah had had enough of my bullshit. She challenged me to dig deeper, to set aside the superficial obsession with being the skinniest girl in the world, and face my deepest fears—the ones that lay at the very core of my eating disorder.


I’m not saying that people with eating disorders are vain. If anything, we are selfless to a fault. However, sometimes, we get so caught up in the lies that Ed feeds us that we lose sight of reality. The real issue that prevents us from seeking recovery is not the fear of gaining weight—that’s what Ed wants us to think. No, the root of our inhibition for recovery is staring that demon in the eyes and taking back our power.


At some point while we were sick, Ed took our power from us and brainwashed us into believing that following his rules would make us perfect. In reality, we were like zombies, slowly destroying ourselves. It can be scary to truly have power over our own lives and bodies. For me, the thought of having real choice was terrifying. Now, after being in recovery for a while, I can promise you that having real choice and real power is a hell of a lot less scary than I initially thought. Recovery is a choice, and it’s a big one. But the peace and confidence you will gain makes all the initial fear worth it!


I can honestly say that “getting over myself” was the start of a beautiful recovery. When you look at the core of your eating disorder and come to terms with what is really keeping you sick, the world (and recovery) becomes yours!