The most important thing I've learned about healing is not giving up. It
might take months, years, or even decades. I know that is hard to hear, but
healing is really an on-going process filled with successes and setbacks.The key is to be kind to yourself, and be patient. And, be okay with asking for and accepting help. Help is available to you any time. My parents have been my greatest sense of aid and it took time for me to be okay taking their help without feeling guilt.
“Calling All Angels”
Part III’s theme song is “Calling All Angels” by Train because not only is this a great song to finish the series on an uplifting note, but it is also a reflection of what I believe is the true source of illness and disease, and that is pain in the soul. I believe that once you heal what is hurt and tormented in your heart and soul, your illness, disease, or addiction will no longer have a place in your life, and you will be restored to a state of vibrant health. These are the lines in the song I like to sing loudly:
I need a sign to let me know you're here
I need to know that things are gonna look up
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me
I won't give up if you dont give up
I believe that words are very important. What you say is what you end up thinking, hearing, and then doing. I also believe how you use words in context will have a profound effect on your own personal growth. For example, I try not to use the words “weight loss” because 1. The universe does not acknowledge negatives meaning it does not register words like “no, non, or loss.” All it hears is “weight” so your wish is granted and you either keep the weight on or the pounds come back. 2. No one likes to lose anything. Typically, when you lose something you want it back like your keys or a lover. No one wants their extra weight back, so I try to say things like weight shedding, weight dropping, or “ weight be leaving my body.”
I'm not a doctor, I just sound like one on public TV
Before I go further, I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. I'm not a shrink or even a life coach. At most, I can play the role of big sister, so everything I’m about to say is just my personal philosophy after spending years through trial and error. I’ve been through a slew of Western healing modalities and Holistic, Alternative modalities. My knowledge is based on spending years on the "receiving end" of healing rather than the practice of healing people. I don't have any plaques on my wall except for the framed copy of my blog business license. Some of you will disagree with my philosophies and that is fine. I won't argue with your beliefs. I am sharing what has worked for me, and just offering something else to think about.
So, please, talk to your medical “partners in prosperity” like a doctor, nurse, therapist, or healer, and get advice from them for your particular situation. But also remember, that you are the owner of your body, and you will only heal if your mind, body, and soul together feel good about your doctor’s advice. If something feels off or you don’t feel good about their advice, get a second or third opinion.
Now, back to the power of words…
I have never liked the terms, “eating disorder” and “mental illness.” I think these terms are designed more for the pill manufacturers and insurance companies to make it easier to label and categorize. It’s very medicinal. I also believe that these terms focus more on what is imperfect or faulty about the person who is suffering. So, okay, I will spend some time on the soapbox, so bare with me.
An illness is not who I am
An illness or disorder does not define a person. Instead of saying, “I’m bulimic.” I try and say, “I am a healthy woman who has issues with bulimic behavior.” Saying that focuses on what I want to be “healthy” and it separates who I am, Stephanie, from something I use as a coping mechanism for stress and fear, the bulimia.I am not ashamed any more of telling people that I am dealing with bulimia, but at the same time I don't believe it defines me. Dealing with my issues around bulimia has helped me grow as a person but I do not consider it who I am. I view bulimia as a learned behavior, a coping mechanism versus an illness. Yes, there are all kinds of studies and medical experts who say otherwise, but I don't buy it, and theories can change. Remember when all the experts said the earth was flat?
...Holistically, I see bulimia not as an eating disorder but that my soul is in a state of disorder ...
I have seen girls, teens, and women learn how to use bulimia to stay thin and to deal with the stress and fear of life from family, friends, the internet, and TV. In looking at my nearly 20-year pattern with bulimia, bulimia re-immerges into my life only when life is changing so much that I feel loss of control or when things are sky rocketing and I use bulimia as self-sabotage because of issues with worthiness and self-value.
Holistically, I see bulimia not as an eating disorder but that my soul is in a state of disorder. The disorder was created because pain has taken over self love. I remember being in a therapy session once years ago, and literally not being able to make myself feel any kind of love. It saddened me deeply that I could not find one ounce of love for myself. Why did I hate, no loathe, myself that much? I didn't even know exactly how I got this deep, but there it was.
In order to achieve good health, the pain inside has to be addressed and healed. I do not believe the problem is faulty wiring in the brain. The core problem is the chaos and agony that grows inside because it has no place else to go. During my recent relapse, once I learned that my inner 19-year-old was the one screaming in pain, and she was pissed that we were not where we "should" be at 40-years-old, I started the work of addressing and healing “her” issues and the bulimia stopped almost entirely. The bulimic activity was also isolated to night time only when I felt the greatest sense of loneliness and pain mostly from missing Matt. The bulimic urges also flared up when I would eat anything not healthy like fast food or processed foods. When I eat organic, the bulimic urges don’t appear.
It's about power and control
As I said in Part I, eating disorders are not about food. It’s about power and control. Rape is not about sex. It’s about power and control. Any dis-ease really is about power and control. You are not in a state of ease. It’s about power and control of pain. This is my personal theory on why pills cannot cure you long term from an eating disorder or any illness for that matter. Pills cannot take away the pain in your soul that is driving you to do un-loving things to yourself. Pills cannot take away what is “eating” you up inside. Pills cannot un-do the negativity in your heart. Pills are a short term fix. They can patch things and they can calm you down to the point where you can focus and start the real work you need to do to heal from your eating disorder, depression, anxiety, or whatever disease you may have.
I was on the "happy pills", as I called them, for almost two years, and I was definitely calm on the outside, but I did not feel good at all. I also made the mistake of just stopping them cold turkey without consulting my doctor, and oh boy! what a nightmare that was. Never do that. Trust me in that you don't want to find out will happen to you. After that horrible experience, it did convince me more that there just had to be another way to get better other than using the "happy pills." For me, because of perseverance, I found a solution, but it surely wasn't as easy as popping a pill.
The real work that needs to be done is to go into your soul and get to the core pain that is causing all the disorder in your house (your body), and this is very hard, scary work, which is why it is called bravery if you are willing to do this work. After my nervous breakdown in 2001 and subsequent departure from my job, I decided to focus on healing my mind, body, and spirit because I knew that if I didn’t do it then, I would continue down a path that would only lead me to more misery, bitterness, and dis-ease.
If I knew then what I know now
However, if I knew then what I know now, I might not have gone through with the work on myself because it was really hard and painful because I had years and years of accumulated pain to deal with. It takes courage and great strength to go deep inside yourself like that. Most people would rather take an easy way out. They’d opt for quick fixes. But really, it took time to create that disarray in the first place, so it will take time to dismantle it and heal it. It really is like peeling away an onion.
...Most people would rather take an easy way out. ...
Symbolically, I also see where the act of binging and purging was a way my body was trying to purge a secret. During the five years I kept the secret of being raped by a former boyfriend, my bulimic activity was high. I think it was one way my soul was trying to literally get that secret out because once I let the secret out and started dealing with it in therapy, again, the bulimic activity stopped.
Every single person I have ever met who has some kind of addiction, disorder, or illness has some major pain or pains that they have either kept a secret for years, not dealt with at all, or ignored thinking that it will go away on its own eventually. What ends up happening is that you just end up piling more pain on top of old pain. The sooner you can get to cleaning up all the different pains, the less work you have to do in the future, and the more time you have to enjoy a healthy, vibrant, happy temple.
My restoration to vibrant health
The bulimia relapse started in September, and was full blown in October, but has now tapered off going into January. The benefit of having done so much healing work over the years is that when I have relapses, they get shorter and shorter. Talking to my doctor before the holidays, she said that she believed that I would be “done” with bulimia this time around because I do not need it any more.
In my heart, I believe this too because during the nights after a purge I would sit on the bathroom floor crying like Elizabeth in Eat, Pray, Love and say to God, “I want to be done doing this. I want to be healthy, and find a more positive way to deal with my fears and stress. I want to be done with bulimia. I am done. I want a divorce from this behavior. Please, God, help me be done once and for all.” I believe my prayers are being answered, and time will tell. Best yet, I know I am not alone, and the signs are everywhere telling me that things are gonna look up.
Thank you for reading all three parts of this series on my 2008 New Year's Confession, and having an open heart and mind. I appreciate your compassion, and I am grateful!