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Friday, December 28, 2012

Family Style

             I forgot to tell everyone that I finally reached my goal weight! I have no idea what it is or what I weigh, but apparently I now have a “healthy” BMI. My dietician started decreasing my meals about a week and a half ago. The decreases were barely noticeable, until today! Today I was moved to “family style.” (Whenever I hear family style I think of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s last album with his brother Jimmie. . .) Anyway,  here “family style” means I get to plate myself. I am required to plate 1 main dish and 2 sides, and I am required to finish 100%. The Care Techs check to make sure I’m not restricting, but it’s nice/terrible to have a choice. Nice because if I want one side and not another, I can choose. Terrible because my eating disorder, Frank, is SCREAMING at me to restrict, just a little.
“You should take the smallest omelette”
“Just skimp a little on that side, just a little off the top. They won’t notice.”
Like I said, I’m required to take 1 main and 2 sides. My dietician wants me to take 1 main and 3 sides because my weight dropped when they started decreasing me, but I don’t want to take more than I have to. I don’t know if that’s me or the eating disorder. . . .
The nice thing about being “plated” (i.e. having your meals set out for you) was that it wasn’t MY decision what I was eating. If they gave me a lot, I ate it. If they gave me less, I ate it. But my eating disorder is still telling me that IF I have a choice, I should choose vegetables instead of dessert, I shouldn’t get butter on my roll, I should take the smallest main dish available, and never under any circumstances use condiments! (Except hot sauce)
I’m hoping as I get used to choosing my own meals, Frank’s voice will fade. I barely hear him most of the day, and it’s wonderful. I can actually hear MYSELF think, and as it turns out, I’m kind of an interesting person. Who knew?
Did you hear that? That disgusting gurgle sound? That’s Frank dying because I said something nice about myself.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oh Look, it has FEELINGS.

I haven’t written in a few days because I got a couple scathing comments on one of my previous blogs. I don’t want to respond to it, but I think I should at least acknowledge that I am aware of it. I handle criticism pretty well (I actually agree with most negative things people say about me) but this was attacking my motives and my character and it was just plain untrue. I was especially hurt because I’m trying really hard to be a better person, not just with the disorder, but in every sense.
Everyone has “automatic thoughts” which are reflexive thoughts that come like rapid fire, and you don’t always notice them. Like blinking. Mine tend to be things like, “fat,” “ugly,” “unsuccessful,” “unlikable,”  “selfish,” “stupid,” “shameful,” “embarrassing.” The perfectionist in me tends to over generalize and think in terms of black and white. Either I’m the skinniest, or I’m fat. Either everyone likes me or everyone hates me. If I don’t succeed at everything, I’m a failure. If I don’t understand something, I’m stupid. If one person thinks I’m selfish and entitled, then everyone must think that. If everyone thinks that, then it must be true. That comment really hurt my feelings, and it’s taken me a few days to let myself feel hurt about it.
So here it is: my written emotional purge. I feel hurt. I’m not going to purge or restrict or over-exercise to try to cope with this. I’m going to let myself sit with it for a while, and believe that it will eventually pass or at least diminish. It’s ok to feel hurt. It doesn’t mean I’m weak or failing, it means I’m human. And that’s not just ok, it’s pretty great.
(After all, all my favorite people are human: Family, friends, Santa, Ellen, Mr. Rodgers, and YOU!)

P.S. I think I should mention that NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO READ THIS BLOG. If it makes you mad, please read something else. Life is too short to be angry about a blog.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Wish You a Merry Christmas

"At this time of Christmas, this season when gifts are given, let us not forget that God gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, that each of us might have the gift of eternal life" -Gordon B. Hinckley

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I know I did. On Christmas Eve my dad and I went to Riverwoods Mall to look at Christmas lights and sing carols. Then we got in his car, put the top down (in the snow) and sang along with the radio at the top of our lungs. (And yes, there is a video). On Christmas day Dad took me to see Les Miserables, we had great seats and it was amazing! After that we tried a new Italian restaurant in Salt Lake and had a delicious tomato bisque. AND (for the first time in more years than I can remember) there was no crying about food on Christmas. No stress, no worry, no self-loathing about what I had or was going to eat: a really wonderful Christmas present to me from my Heavenly Father.

This was a wonderful and simple Christmas. I’ve found that those are almost always the best. A few years ago, right after my divorce, I spent Christmas Day entirely alone. It’s a great memory to me because I really got to spend time thinking about what Christmas means. Christ was born. Our savior and redeemer. I’m so grateful He came to earth to set an example, to teach, and to atone for all of us. I know He loves us and has given us the greatest gift.  

Isaiah 9:6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

THANK YOU to everyone who sent or brought gifts to the center. Tara, Whitney, Lisa, Heather, Kristian and Jess, Kristin, Justin, Mary, Debby. To everyone I’ve not mentioned, I’m so sorry—a lot of boxes were thrown away before I got names and addresses! THANK YOU so much! The staff went through donation boxes before Christmas. I’m sorry I can’t thank specific people for the specific things they donated because the gifts were checked and dispersed evenly among the units before I even knew they were here! We all had a very wonderful Christmas morning! Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas received many presents, and all were very appreciated. To hear us opening presents you would have expected to see a bunch of second graders, not grown women.

"We all enjoy giving and receiving presents. But there is a difference between presents and gifts. The true gifts may be part of ourselves--giving of the riches of the heart and mind--and therefore more enduring and of far greater worth than the presents bought at the store. Of course, among the greatest of gifts is the gift of love . . . . " -James E. Faust
I have to use another paragraph to say thank you because that last one seems too small. Thank you to everyone who brought presents, because they were MORE than presents. You took time to do something kind for people you don't even know. Those presents represented love, compassion, support, understanding, and charity; "the riches of the heart and mind." Thank you for giving of yourselves. Thank you for blessing my life. Thank you, Thanks, Many Thanks, You Shouldn’t Have, You’re Too Kind, I Appreciate You! 
Christmas 2010
I know you can’t see it, but this is my amazingly grateful/happy/touched face... (I’m making it right now).

I have a funny side note here. Usually when I receive a package, it’s not for me it’s for the unit. So I just open it and distribute it or let everyone take what they need. Christmas was no different, except some of the girls started taking things out of the package that was specifically to me from my mom! I thought that was funny.

. . . And a Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Recipe!

Dear Reader,

Please accept my simple gift to you: Chocolate Turtle Cookies!!

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar1 large egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, chopped fine
  • 14 soft caramel candies
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners. 
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl.
  3. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. 
  4. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 1 hour (I was impatient so I put my dough in the freezer and it only took about 40 minutes). 
  5. Whisk egg white(s) in another bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another bowl. One at a time, roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, then roll in pecans. 
  6. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. 
  7. Bake until set, 10 to12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. 
  8. Meanwhile, microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  9. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with teaspoon measure. Fill each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. 
  10. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool completely
Much Love,
Milla: The Night Baker

Monday, December 17, 2012

Funny Sister, Shirts, and Gratitude.

December 17, 2012

I have another funny sister story. My sister . . . she’s a hoot.

Yesterday the Packers played the Bears and DOMINATED. We won and are now the NFC North Division champions. Go Pack. In honor of the game, I was wearing my Greenbay shirt and my Cheesehead beanie. Dad took a picture of me posing like Clay Matthews (aka the future Mr. Kuhns, father of my children) and sent it to my siblings with the caption, “GO PACK! Love, Camilla.”
Sarah texted back.
She didn’t say, “Go Pack!” or “Yay!” or “Nice!” or “Love you too!”

She said, “YAY! SHE HAS BOOBS!”

Oh, Sarah. You kill me. Most of my best stories start with, “This one time my sister . . . “

Also last night I had a pass with my dad. We went to Savers (again) for the last 15 minutes it was open. I really needed some shirts that fit, so we divided and conquered. I found 3 t-shirts and a hoodie. For $12. NIIICE. I am feeling much better about my clothing situation. The BEST part was I didn’t feel gross when I was trying the clothes on! I felt like I looked ok. It was such a relief. I hope that feeling lasts for a little while. So far today I’m feeling ok, so that’s great. Any respite from the fat feeling is always cherished.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. We decorated the tree here and we can play Christmas music now, so it feels a lot cheerier and more festive around the unit in general. I’m so grateful for everyone who has sent care packages and Christmas cards. The girls always get excited when I get a package because they know it’s never for me, it’s always for the them or the unit. The simple things make our day. I’ve never seen anyone so excited about pencils and coloring books. Not even my 7 year old godson.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it a million more times and it still won’t be enough. I am SO grateful to be here. I really don’t know why I’m so lucky. So many girls need help and don’t get it. I’m fully aware that I’m undeserving and am truly one of the lucky ones. I feel like the luckiest. I’m learning so much. Frank gets a little quieter every day. Apparently food and hard work are his kryptonite, so as long as I keep myself nourished and working hard, his demise is immanent.

Frank. Is. Going. Down. 
That’s the best Christmas present. Thank you all SO much.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Time

Christmas Time

I never felt safer than when I was lying under the Christmas tree with my siblings (or alone), looking up at the lights and ornaments through prickly branches, listening to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums or one of the many many Christmas music boxes my mom collected. I felt joy, peace, comfort . . .  And if “home” was a feeling, that would’ve been it. Our house always smelled a certain way at Christmas. Like pine and candles; Christmas cookies; old ornaments; masking tape. There was a tangible feeling. It really was magic.

 Every Christmas Eve we would squish on the couch and watch an old VHS tape my parents made of all the TV Christmas Specials. There was “Rudolph,” “A Claymation Christmas,” “Garfield’s Christmas,” “Pee-Wee’s Christmas,” “Christmas on Sesame Street,” and “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas.” (I have to say, these are all epic shows, but if you haven’t seen Mr. Krueger’s Christmas, you must see it.).

(Sidebar: I still have a ton of 80’s-early 90’s commercials memorized because of that VHS tape. “I’d like a bike, I’d like a pony, but what I LOVE is My First Sony!”)

We’d drink hot cocoa with marshmallows (we called them eights) stirred with a candy cane, listen to “The Night Before Christmas” and eat sugar cookies we’d decorated in the weeks before. We’d turn the lights off, except the twinkle lights, and gather around the tree to open our presents from Grandma and Grandpa Kuhns (because that’s how they do in Deutschland). We’d end the night by listening to Dad read from Luke chapter 2, verses 1-20, the real story of Christmas, from his great-grandfather’s tattered and well loved bible.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

On Christmas morning, we’d gather in mom and dad’s room, then line up youngest to oldest and go down the stairs and into the living room. Mahalia Jackson would be playing on the stereo and our stockings and the contents thereof would be strewn all over the couches. Mom used to wake up early to make a fancy Christmas breakfast, but one year we had “fun” cereal, hot chocolate, and Nutella instead. We NEVER got sugar cereal, and we all loved it so much it became a tradition. Nothing is as great as Christmas morning cereal. NOTHING. I’m pretty sure I would eat several bowls throughout the morning.

Honestly a little piece of me disliked Christmas morning, because I knew it meant the magical Christmastime feeling was almost over.

Because of all these wonderful memories, thinking of Christmas has always had a calming effect on me. I can think of the tree and lights and feel comforted. Even in the middle of summer, Christmas music makes me feel peaceful and safe. And it’s never a bad time to watch Garfield’s Christmas.  
This year has been really difficult. I feel like I’m missing the entire season. Picking a tree, making cookies, listening to Christmas music, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorations. . . I don’t feel Christmasy here at the center. For the time being we aren’t able to listen to Christmas music, and we don’t have any decorations. Yet. I think we’re supposed to get a tree and some d├ęcor tomorrow. I really hope we do, because even with my ugly Christmas sweaters and Christmas socks, I’m struggling to get that Christmas feeling. I feel sad. I miss the way my family used to be. I miss Christmas. We never had a ton of money, but we were always SO SPOILED. My parents had a way of making Christmas very special every year. It was always in the little details, like the funky Santa pillow, the stockings knitted by Great Grandma Bertie, the bell on the front door, or the somewhat creepy Santa face we hung on the wall. . .

 I really wish I could bottle that feeling. I would carry it around in my pocket and sprinkle it on people who looked sad. I would put it in brownies and call them “Magic Brownies” which might confuse some people because pot is now legal in Washington. . . I would wear it like perfume and suddenly become unexplainably irresistible to everyone.

I would be really creative and call it “Christmas in a Bottle: aka WORLD PEACE.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Need Another Word For "Thanks" ...

I Need Another Word for Thanks . . .
  . . . Because "Thanks" feels very insufficient. I feel silly even trying to write this blog. I don’t know how to express my gratitude adequately. As I’ve been writing I’ve noticed that the more eloquent I try to be, the sillier I sound. I’m a lot of things, but at the end of the day I’m a Wisconsinite. I like mayonnaise on my brats. I wear cheese hats in public. I enjoy singing “Sweet Transvestite” at karaoke. I think drunk people are hilarious. I try to be gracious, but I’m also very crass. If I tried as hard as I want to express my gratitude in a stirring, impassioned and impressive manner, it ends up sounding fluffy and insincere.

So thank you. Thank you times a billion!! Plus a trillion. Times infinity.

I don’t feel worthy of the care and help I’ve received and am continuing to receive. I often feel guilty that I’m receiving so much help. I hope if anyone reading this is struggling with any kind of illness or addiction you’ll see the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve had to my appeal for assistance, and will find your own motivation and courage to tell people you need help, and to accept it when it comes.

A few years ago, right after my divorce, I wrote a blog called “Everyone should have a Jory.” Jory is a dear friend who was there for me when I got divorced, and has always been there when I’ve needed a shoulder to cry on, or any kind of support. I still believe with all my heart that everyone should have a Jory.

Anorexia Awareness Benefit Dinner
My darling friend put together a benefit dinner/auction/raffle that took place last Sunday, Dec. 9th. It was a tremendous success. So many people came, including many whom I’ve never met. Everyone loves Jory (because he loves everyone), and I know they came to support him as he supported me. He also found a way for people to donate through a non-profit organization (Women’s Health Organization … the link is at the top of my blog). Everything donated to me through the non-profit goes directly to the Center for Change for my care, which is simplifying my life in a HUGE way. I feel a huge weight lifted.

I want to share the e-mail Jory sent me describing the event:

“I felt like we did really well for the dinner.  Between the dinner, raffle, silent auction and donation page that we put up, we did [nearly $4000].  I feel pretty great about that.  I hope you do too.

My friend Michelle is a professional photographer.  She stayed up all night a week ago and read your entire blog.  She had a dream that night about how she should take pictures at the event and share them with you. . . It was very sweet. 

My friend Tara Starling read the email below that you sent me. It was touching.  Truly.  Gave me chills (you can see the video )

My friend Stephanie Anderson and I drove around all day on Friday and Saturday and got ALL of the groceries paid for.  That’s what I was most stressed about.  We had ZERO overhead for this party; quite literally everything was donated.  (Huge sigh of relief).  I didn’t want any costs so that we could give you ALL of the donations.

The event itself was perfect. . .  We figure about 150 came.  We made 4 soups from scratch and Kneaders donated about 40 loaves of bread.  We had so much soup left over because we made enough soup for 250 that we gave the rest to a homeless shelter in Midvale.  So fun. 

Stephanie got us around 35 items donated that we raffled and auctioned off… worth about $2,000.  She was amazing and a HUGE help.  Could not have done this without her.”

Jory’s friend Stephanie also gave me some wonderful Matrix shampoo and conditioner and brought ABBA body washes and lotions for the other girls here! So much generosity in one place, it’s truly overwhelming.

Kamiakin Band "Concert for Camilla"
Last night, my band director from Junior High, Mr. B., held a “Concert for Camilla.” Here's the email he sent to the Kamiakin "band family".

A family in our community is desperate and we can help.  The Kamiakin bands have a proud history of helping those in need.... We have the chance to help a young lady who graduated from the Kamiakin Band Program in 1998 and suffers from Anorexia.  At next Tuesday’s concert, “A Concert for Camilla,” we’ll be passing the hat to help Camilla’s family fund her recovery at the Center for Change in Orem, Utah.”

I haven’t heard yet how the concert went, but Kamiakin Junior High concerts are usually AWESOME. [Dad’s note: Over $1000 was raised!] Mr. Brannman is probably my favorite teacher ever, and I know I’m not the only one of his students who thinks so. He makes it a point to keep in touch with all of the “Band Alumni” and I can tell he truly cares about all of us.

These are merely two recent examples of the generosity and charity I’ve experienced. It’s truly overwhelming. I’m not going to lie, some days knowing that people out there are rooting for me is the only thing that keeps me here (because recovery is very hard). Thank you for pulling for me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for helping me heal. I know I couldn’t have done this alone.

I’m truly overwhelmed with gratitude. I wish I could express it better.

Thank you times a billion.
Plus a trillion. Times infinity. Love, Camilla

Monday, December 10, 2012

About My Discharge Plan

Apologies if this is a boring post, but it might help you. 
   When you’re in treatment for an addiction of any kind, figuring out what you’re going to do when you leave is a HUGE piece of the process. Things are very safe here in my treatment center. I can’t engage in my eating disorder behaviors. I’m protected from Frank, but out in the real world is a different story. 
            I’m working on my discharge plan. Don’t you fret, I will not be discharging any time soon—I’m pretty sure if I tried my therapist would laugh at me. I’ll stay here until I run out of money or until I’m ready to step down from residential to partial hospitalization program (PHP). We start working on our discharge plans early so we can identify triggers, emotions, and warning signs that lead to negative behaviors. We list coping skills we can utilize other than our eating disorders; specific dietary, exercise, self care, and social commitments; self correction strategies; and support people to call or text or whatever if we feel like we might lapse. The discharge plan helps us have a vision of how our life is going to look outside of the center.
            When I discharge, I’ll have what’s called an “after-care team,” which will include a physician, therapist, dietician, and psychiatrist. Ideally, after residential I will step down to a partial hospitalization program (PHP) from 9 am-6 pm every day. After that I’ll move to an intensive outpatient program (IOP) which is about 3 hours a day 3-4 days a week. Then I’ll attend therapy a couple times a week, go to support groups, etc. That will last anywhere from a few years to the rest of my life.
            A big part of the discharge plan is where I’m going to live. Obviously figuring out where to live is an integral part of finding an aftercare team. Ideally I’ll be able to start working with my aftercare team before I leave here. The problem is I am very confused about where I should live. But one thing I’m certain of: I’m not going back to Seattle. I think my Seattle days are officially over. I liked Opal while I was there, I grew up there, my friends are there, but there’s no questioning that I got worse when I moved home. It’s no one’s fault but mine. Frank was born and raised in that house; I think I’ve binged, purged, restricted, or over-exercised in every room. The stores there remind me, the freeways, restaurants, neighborhoods—nearly everything.
            I need to live somewhere with good PHP and IOP programs. If I stay here I could live with my dad, or get my own place. Living alone is too risky in my opinion, and living with my dad might be hard; BUT if I stay here I can do PHP and IOP and therapy at Center for Change, which would be great because I already know the people here. Another option is to move to Arizona and live with big brother K and his wife J. They live in Gilbert, which is very near the Remuda Ranch PHP and IOP programs. Arizona would be a fresh start, it’s sunny, I could ride my bike everywhere and wouldn’t need a car. Also my beloved dog nephews are there!
            There’s a lot to figure out right now, luckily I have a lot of time to do it. In case anyone is interested, here is a bit of my discharge plan so far:
    • I will eat breakfast every day at a scheduled time
    • I will eat lunch every day at a scheduled time
    • I will eat dinner every day at a scheduled time
      • 1 main and 2 sides
      • Eat intuitively
    • I will not restrict, I will listen to hunger/fullness cues
    • I will be honest if I am struggling and ask for support
    • I will eat 2-3 snacks a day.
      • If I skip a snack I will do the next right thing
      • I will have variety in my meals
    • I will exercise no more than 6 days a week
      • I will not do more than 1 hour a day
      • I will have variety--running, yoga, pilates, zumba
    • I will rest on Sunday
    • For the first month I will not exercise alone
    • I will include going dancing and hiking/riding bike as exercise         
    • I will put real clothes on during the day
    • I will not stay in my exercise clothes all day
    • I will do my hair/makeup at least twice a week
    • I will get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
    • I will not stay up past 10pm on weekdays
    • I will not stay up past 11pm on weekends
    • I will wake up by 8 am on weekdays
      • I can reevaluate this with my therapist and support team 2 weeks after discharge
Alone Time:
    • I will not isolate
    • I will not eat alone, even if I have to eat a snack at a mall or somewhere public
      • I can reevaluate after 2 weeks
Warning Signs Leading to Negative Behaviors
  • Lying
  • Behaving anxiously/erratically
  • Hiding food
  • Blowing up about small things
  • Checking out/isolating
Self-Correction Strategies
  1. If I lapse, I will tell someone within 24 hours
  2. I will not water load at meals
  3. I will not compensate with restricting or exercise
  4. For 2 weeks I will have a nightly check-in with ______

How Support Members can Help
  • If I come to you and admit a lapse, don’t yell at me.
  • Help me eat the next meal or snack; do the next right thing
  • Listen; don’t try to fix it, especially not when I’m in the middle of the chaos
  • Ask me questions about what I was feeling or doing before the lapse
  • Avoid interrogating
  • Ask specifically if I have restricted/binged/purged
  • Do not engage if I start talking about being fat
I hope this post has been educational if nothing else. If you are struggling with an addiction I recommend putting something together like this when you’re thinking clearly, and post it somewhere where people can see it. Tell your family and friends so you can be held accountable. It’s scary. It’s hard. And I think it will be worth it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Gift Giving Idea from Camilla's Dad!+ It Supports Camilla!

A friend makes AMAZING caramels. She's named one of her creations "Milla The Night Baker" caramels and will donate $6 out of every sale (her profit) to Camilla's care. Here's the link to order:

and thank you! [Camilla's Dad]

Camilla's Thank You Email at her Benefit Dinner

This video shows a local actress reading Camilla's thank you email at a recent benefit dinner held for her.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

TAX FREE (Non-Profit) DONATION SITE- from Camilla's Dad

Many of you have asked for a way to donate to Camilla's care TAX-FREE. Through the generous help of Camilla's friends, now you can. Go to this non-profit group's page: Women's Health Organization to donate. You'll receive a receipt for your taxes, and the funds will go directly to Camilla's care. And Thank You! -- Dave Kuhns (Camilla's dad)

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!!

December 6th: Happy Saint Nicholas Day!!
In my family we always celebrate St. Nicholas Day. It’s a Catholic Holiday, but also a German holiday. We are not Catholic, but we are very very Deutsch. So every December 5th our shoes would go out by the fireplace and in the morning St. Nicholas would bring oranges, nuts, chocolates, books, socks, CD’s, movies, piano music, and other little trinkets. I loved St. Nicholas Day more than Christmas. It was like a pre-Christmas Christmas, and I loved the little funky trinkets St. Nick would bring.
   Today my Dad came to Center For Change (CFC) decked out in his Santa hat and dropped off Holiday Socks for all my girls on the Residential Unit. He’s so Jolly. J One of the receptionists here told me that she was behind him as he pulled into CFC. Picture this: A guy in a Santa hat, driving down the street with the top down on his convertible even though it’s 37 degrees outside, raising the roof to loud music. That’s my dad.
   The receptionist said, “I saw this guy in a Santa hat with the top down on his car just rocking out to music and pumping his hands in the air. And then he turned into the CFC parking lot, and I thought ‘Oh great. Another Crazy. But honestly he totally made my day.”

My dad has a way of doing that. Making people’s day, I mean.

Anyway, in honor of Saint Nicholas Day, and in the spirit of the holiday season, I have a request to make. Not for me, I’m spoiled enough, but for the other girls here. There are 22 girls on my residential unit. Most of us are from out of state. 20 of us were here for Thanksgiving, and most of us will be here through Christmas and New Year. It’s hard to be away from our families, but it’s especially hard this time of year. We also feel bad for how much our families are sacrificing so we can be here,

One girl said: “My family’s not having Christmas because I’m in here and they can’t afford it.”

That statement was followed by nods and murmurs of agreement.
My request is for anyone who can: Please play Santa Claus this year. No one wants much. It’s just nice to be remembered.

Here is a wish list I’ve compiled just from different conversations I’ve had with the girls here:
Fuzzy Socks/Slippers
Chapstick/Lip gloss
Pretty Journals
Trivia games (They’re very helpful and we play them in the dining hall i.e. catch phrase, would you rather, taboo, etc)
Sharpies/Metalic Sharpies (apparently they write on dark paper)
Gel pens
Smashbook Accessories (Walmart)
Walmart gift cards (that’s the only place they shop for us)
Facewipes (like Neutrogena/Olay makeup remover wipes kind of thing)
BB cream (Garnier)
Face moisturizer
Zip up hoodies (a lot of girls didn’t know they’d be here through winter (or are from warm states and don’t know better) and don’t have a lot of warm clothes to layer for outings.)
Warm hats (berets, beanies with poofs on top)
Ear warmer headbands (knitted ones with the flowers on them—I think they might only have them in Utah. We saw them on an outing to Gardner Village and all the girls were raving about them)
Nice shampoo and conditioner
Yummy smelling lotion
Body Spray
Inspirational quotes/cards
Coloring books
Santa hats
Flower barrettes
Stick on earrings
Large magnets
Those plastic magnet picture frames
Stationary and Note Cards (to write letters/thank you notes)
Forever Stamps (we write a lot of letters here . . . .)
Fake tattoos/glitter tattoos
Sodoku/Crossword/Brain teaser books
500 piece puzzles

I know this is extensive, but if everyone did something small you could really make a difference in our Christmas here.
  Some guidelines if you DO send something: We can’t have small magnets, mirrors, glass, anything with long ties/ribbon/strings, nothing with metal on it (even pens). Also the Care Techs have to go through all of our packages to make sure there is no contraband inside. So don’t waste your wrapping paper because it will get torn, but not in the fun way. J
Send them C/O Camilla Kuhns
Center for Change
1790 N. State St.
Orem, UT 84057

Thank you!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Body I Wear

The Body I Wear                 

Last weekend I had a pass, which is a 4 hour leave from the Center. Being out in the real world is hard. It’s hard to not compare myself to every thin woman I see, especially now that I look more normal; more “healthy.” I still have an anorexic mind. A big part of me craves my anorexic behaviors, and I definitely miss my anorexic body. But I look normal. I’m an anorexic girl in a normal-sized body. I feel incongruent and uncomfortable. It’s like having a permanent fat suit.

My body image is in the pooper today. I don’t like the way it’s formed. I don’t like my proportions. I have big knees and large thighs. My hips are square, my chest is large, my arms are scrawny, my wrists are big. I have large ankles. My stomach is usually ok, but with weight restoration a lot of the fat has landed in my abdomen (apparently this is normal and goes away after a few months, but still). I can’t look at myself in the mirror without feeling ashamed and disgusted. Also I’m getting wrinkles, and all my hair is falling out/damaged. I don’t know what to do to help myself feel better.

Like I said, I had a pass over the weekend and I went to Savers (similar to Goodwill or Value Village -- a 2nd hand thrift store) with my dad. The goal was to buy clothes that will fit this growing body. Savers is the best place to buy “fat clothes.” I don’t want to spend money on something I hate, so why would I spend money dressing a body I loathe? My body is like a really really terrible outfit that I can’t change out of

Treatment Team suggested going shopping with a friend who can bring you several sizes in whatever style you like. You have to have the will power to not look at the tags, buy what fits, and cut the size out when you get home. That doesn’t work so well when you go shopping at Savers with Dad. Dad is awesome. He’s supportive, helps me redirect when I’m getting anxious, let’s me cry when I need to, and is a really great listener. His one flaw is this: Dad does not know how to buy women’s jeans. And at thrift stores you really have to dig to find cute things. So I was left to my own devices, which was emotionally draining. I was fitting in sizes I haven’t looked at in years. Even some of those things were too tight. I bought a pair of size 3/4 jeans that are a little baggy, but I know will probably be too small by the time I leave. Before I came here size 00 was big. I could basically buy any pair of pants without trying them on, because I knew (if anything) they’d be too big.

I don’t love shopping and I HATE trying clothes on.   

(Although I did find an “ugly” Christmas Sweater. It’s SO ugly it crosses the threshold of ugly and enters the realm of darling and adorable. Like some babies . . . . Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fill Your Head With Hair

Fill Your Head With Hair

Yesterday someone here told us that one of the reasons she decided to recover from her eating disorder was because her hair started to fall out, and she loved her hair. “It was pure vanity. I was losing the ONE thing I loved about myself.”

I think anything that gets you into recovery is a great thing, even if it is “vanity.”

I was not motivated by hair loss. If anything, I welcomed it. I have very thick, frizzy, unruly hair and the eating disorder made it thinner, which meant it took less time to wash and blow dry. It also looked damaged and dry and gross. But I was totally ok with that. It matched the rest of me.

Something they don’t tell you is that your hair keeps falling out when you’re in recovery. Your body is fed; it finally has sufficient energy to let go of old hair and grow new ones. The result is this fantastic halo of baby whisps that surround your face and neck and stick out at all angles over every inch of your head. It is a sight to behold. I call it Hallelujah Hair. The base of my neck looks like some strange, long, scraggly, backward beard. Highly attractive.

Nothing about this process is making me feel even remotely attractive.

Every time I wash my hair it falls out in clumps. I am desperate for new shampoo and conditioner. Something that helps with hair loss, but not Rogaine because I don’t think that’s my problem. After all, my dad and maternal grandfather still have all their hair. Yes I’m bragging about my genetics. Which is ridiculous. Like those people who brag because they’re tall. 

My hair isn’t really the issue. Feeling ugly is the bigger issue. But even feeling ugly isn’t REALLY the issue. Ask any woman. Living in a culture where “thin” and “pretty” have become almost synonymous with success and importance feels like going to war every single day. We don’t wear makeup, we wear war paint. Hairspray is our helmet, designer purses are our shields. How does anyone feel successful in a world where even cover models don’t actually look like cover models (Hello, Photoshop)?

I’m not good at much, but I was excellent at my eating disorder. I need to figure out something else that I’m good at; something else to help me feel successful and important. I need to know that physical beauty is an impossibly subjective moving target. I need to remember that I wasn’t sent here to be perfect. I want so badly to like myself in any small way. That’s so hard to do when I’ve spent years being my own bully, and hearing the world scream,
“There’s no such thing as too pretty, too smart, too rich, or too thin.”

My sistahs, can I get an AMEN? (And maybe some new shampoo . . . )

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oh, There It Is.

Oh, there it is.

One weird thing about having an eating disorder is how much it numbs you to real feelings. You don’t recognize that you’re numb; you think you’re “fine.” After all, you feel depressed and anxious and crazy, so that must mean your feelings are still intact.


You don’t feel things like happiness, peace, love, sorrow (I mean sorrow for a specific reason). With Frank I felt either completely depressed or completely apathetic.

Today I saw a girl here crying because she misses her boyfriend. She’s ok with not seeing him, but she misses talking to him. I haven’t wanted a relationship in YEARS—I thought I’d been so damaged that I was beyond that kind of feeling.


Frank made me feel that way. As long as I was in a relationship with Frank, I didn’t have room to love anyone else. Or if I DID love them, it was so buried and so numbed that I didn’t recognize it.

Case Study:

My last serious boyfriend (let’s call him M) meant a lot to me. We had a fairly volatile relationship, but we had a pretty great friendship too. When we broke up, I was completely beyond feeling. I’d wanted to break up with him for a while because (being numb) I didn’t think I loved him anymore. I felt BLANK. I kept telling M to move on. I wished he’d meet a wonderful girl who would treat him well and make him happy. He got frustrated that I could brush off our relationship so easily. I didn’t mean to hurt him, I just didn’t feel anything. And to me feeling nothing meant I didn’t love him. When we broke up, I was completely apathetic. We still talked and I appreciated his friendship, but I never cried or even felt sad that our romantic relationship was over. I honestly thought that, having been divorced, I was above feeling sorrow for something as small as a break up.


You can’t feel much of anything when your brain is starved. Biologically your brain and body become obsessed with two things: Survival and food. After all, on a cellular level my body had no idea that I was starving by choice. For all it knew there was a famine in the land. Like Biblical times. My body had no idea that I was PURPOSELY avoiding my fully-stocked pantry. M was not food, therefore I didn’t feel or think anything about him.

A few weeks ago I had a dream that M was getting married. I woke up feeling very sad. The same thing happened last night. It turns out that my heart was a little broken when that relationship ended. Here it is over a YEAR later and I’m just NOW grieving. I knew he and I wouldn’t end up together. We made better friends than a couple. And I DO want him to be happy, but man . . . I did not see that coming. Trying to process these feelings over a year after the breakup is really difficult. It feels very displaced and odd. I didn’t miss him for 14 months, and now, suddenly, I miss him.

Ugh. Not my favorite. 

So M, if you’re reading this, I miss your friendship, I care about you, and I’m sorry if you ever questioned that.



I bet everyone will read this blog because of the title. Admit it. Boobs (even just the word) hold a strange power in our society. I don’t like the word. I prefer Bazoombas. In Junior High I named mine Misha and Yosha, after the hunters in Peter and the Wolf. I don’t know. I was 12.

When I was 4 or so I remember sucking in my stomach until the bottom of my ribcage poked out. I thought that was where my breasts would be. It looked weird. I didn’t like it. I had no interest in ever obtaining such ghastly things, so I decided I wouldn’t grow them.

I. Am. Brilliant.

When I was 9 my flat-chested life plan was shattered. It was summer. I was playing soccer in my neighbor’s yard. He kicked a soccer ball and I skillfully stopped it with my chest (as I had done many times before). For those of you who don’t know, growing breasts is PAINFUL and getting hit in the chest is the worst. Movies and public service announcements had taught me that horrible chest pain = certain death. I ran home, convinced something was terribly wrong with me. I couldn’t find my mom, so I wrapped toilet paper around my chest many times and prayed for God to preserve my young life. Which He did. When I realized I wasn’t dying I mourned the loss of my sunken chest and avoided the neighbors until . . . well, always.

A few days later I was the reluctant owner of several new bras. All white. All boring. All insanely itchy. On their maiden voyage I walked around with my shirt tucked under the elastic because it was SO itchy. And HOT. I was miserable. I resented my bras and the things that made me wear them. I hated those bras. I needed no further proof that breasts were terrible things that did not deserve to be dressed up or comfortable. I LONGED for my retired cotton undershirts and the lost childhood they represented.

About a month later I started 5th grade. I was wearing my bras like a pro at this point (no shirt tucking necessary). A boy in my class said,
“HEY! Are you wearing a bra!?”
Apparently one of my straps was showing. Nothing in my life had prepared me for such a terrible question. So I lied.
 “No! Of course it’s not a bra!”
He then asked,
“Oh, do you just wear that so guys will like you?”
I muttered something incoherent and looked everywhere but at the boy.
Apparently a bra was connected to my likability. I found this very troubling.

I’ve had negative experiences since then, but these all happened within a month of each other. This was just enough time for me to realize that having breasts was not good and I would feel dirty and objectified for the rest of forever.

Today I had a goal. It’s a weird goal. It’s a goal I wouldn’t normally share because I’m kind of afraid my grandparents or my mom will read it. Or my old Sunday School teachers . . . but I’m trying to be honest and kill my shame monster, so here it goes.

November 28, 2012 Goal: Embrace Bazoombas

I don’t mean that literally, of course. That would be weird.

I am cursed (depending on who you ask or how you look at it) with a “womanly” figure. In high school I accepted that I was built that way. I didn’t know by starving myself my butt and hips and chest would magically disappear. I didn’t learn that until later; and oh goodness it made me happy.

Now that I’m restoring weight, Misha and Yosha are coming back with a vengeance. I starved them, and they are punishing me by hoarding every ounce of fat I consume. The change is probably not noticeable to others, but I’m really struggling to accept them. I’m pretty sure I’m no longer sinkable . . .

Anorexic Camilla had an “unattractive and skeletal” body.
Anorexic Camilla did not get ogled by men.
Anorexic Camilla was not sexually desirable.

Healthy Camilla had her boobs “honked” when she was 13.
Healthy Camilla had a hard time finding clothes that didn’t make her look whorish.
Healthy Camilla thought sexuality was the only thing she had to offer.
Healthy Camilla had a body that was more desired/admired by men.

I don’t like this healthier body.

This is the body that was abused. This body “is naturally a very sexy girl” (even when I don’t want to be). This is the body that elicits “subtle” glances.
This is the body that makes me want to yell,


This is the body that does not feel like my own. This is the body my Ex exposed to the world online. This is the body that feels owned by whoever wants it. This is the body that makes me feel uninteresting and powerless outside of my sexuality. This is the body I have learned to hate.

Today I felt so disgusting I asked to go to my room and be alone. I felt dirty and disgusting. I felt exposed. I felt like I couldn’t get away from stares, and that everyone was thinking “look at that whore.” It was a terrible (albeit illogical) feeling; but very real. I felt so much shame in those moments I didn’t want to move or open my eyes or be seen. I was like the three-year-old who believes closing your eyes makes you invisible.

Right now invisibility would be awesome.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Explanation: Why I Haven't Written


I haven’t written much in a while. At least not anything that I’m proud of. Nothing deep or insightful.

I’m gaining weight; it’s becoming more noticeable every day. My jeans barely fit. I’m worried because I don’t have anything else to wear and I really don’t want to go shopping. I’m STILL on weight restoration, so I have these hugely large meals. I’m convinced every new patient here thinks, “why the heck are they feeding her so much?? She’s a fatty.” Weight restoration has never been enjoyable, but it made sense when I was 100 lbs. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore. I just want to sleep because I hate feeling my body. I hate feeling my jeans getting tighter and tighter around my thighs.
I spend most of the day trying to stiffle any feeling. I’m physically uncomfortable and so sad about my body. I sleep to escape (when I can), I read novels to escape (when I can).

When you’re starving your neurotransmitters can stop working. There can even be nerve damage. In my anorexia I could run for hours and never be sore. I could get a bruise and not really feel it. I could run into things and it wouldn’t hurt. Reintroducing food means reintroducing pain. My stomach hurts. My head hurts. My back and joints hurt. I have a foot injury I wasn’t aware of. I have two setting: Sleeping and In Pain. It’s really hard to do emotional work when you’re just trying to handle physical discomfort.  It almost feels like my eating disorder “through the looking glass.” Anorexic Camilla was body obsessed but physically numb. Recovering Camilla is body obsessed and in constant pain.

I feel shame for writing like this, but here’s the truth: I feel like a billion pound heifer. I have no idea what I weigh, but I don’t think I’ll ever be lovable at this size. No one wants a fatty.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Good Stuff

The Good Stuff

In music therapy today we listened to “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney. It’s a song about a guy who goes to a bar to drown his sorrows after fighting with his wife. He asks for “the good stuff” and the bartender tells him “you can’t find that here,” pours him some milk, and lists some of the REAL “good stuff.”

Our eating disorders numb sadness, shame, anger and other uncomfortable emotion; but they simultaneously numb the good things. In honor of Thanksgiving, I present to you my list of what used to be good before Frank took over.

My “Good Stuff.”
Sitting under Christmas tree lights with my siblings
Listening to Mannheim Steamroller on Christmas morning
Getting my hair washed
Making apple pie
Tamarind spice candle
Sitting in sunny windows
Vacuum carpet lines
Watching Packers and Sounders games
The Library
Estate sales
Free samples
Family jokes
A massage
Getting letters
Getting lost in a book
Playing games with family
New socks
Perfume shopping
Cologne shopping (I love the smell of clean man)
Freshly shaved legs and clean sheets
Finding cute antique stores
Having a crush
Small towns
That feeling when you FINALLY go to the bathroom after holding it for WAY too long
Kirkland docks
Grandma and Grandpa’s house
Karaoke with my dad
Hair Serum (the coconut kind)
“God Light”
Telling stories
Wedding TV Shows
The Children’s Section of Barnes and Nobel
Falling asleep (especially those weird scenarios you get in your head that totally make sense when you’re on the verge of sleep but are actually nonsensical)
Finding long lost friends on Facebook
REALLY praying
Freddy Mercury’s voice
Having REAL conversations with my siblings
Watching family videos
Hot cocoa and buttered toast
Baby kisses
Snuggling with Kristian’s dog Creedance
Farmer’s markets
My sister’s sense of humor and laugh
My brothers’ hugs and protectiveness
A great first date
Value Village (99 cent day!!)
Sitting in the temple
Watching “A Garfield Christmas” on Christmas Eve
Saint Nicholas Day!
Acing a test
EAR PLUGS (where would I be without you??)
Randomly bursting into song
Sarah karaoke-ing “Living on a Prayer”
“Snuggle” (you don’t get this, that’s ok)
The first time you hear “I love you.”
Watching someone open a present from me
My skin
Contact lenses and glasses
Having my hair played with
Watching clouds moving REALLY slowly
A nice run (not compulsive, outside, with energy)
Seeing a musical
Feeling content and peaceful and quiet

This list is never ending, because if you really stop to think about it there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

There’s a song by Dashboard Confessional that says,

Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself

Hidden in a perfect shell

Such a charming, beautiful exterior

Laced with brilliant smiles and shining eyes

Perfect makeup, but you’re barely scraping by

But you’re barely scraping by.

A friend once told me that this song reminded him of me.

I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist. A perfectionist is someone who gets perfect grades, is organized, a model employee, chairing every committee, perfect body, perfect face, perfect family.

Yesterday I met with Therapist and talked about perfectionism. She gave me a chart listing several attributes of the perfectionist:

1) You feel stressed and driven and motivated by the fear of failure
(Maybe not driven. Just overwhelmed and stressed.)
2) Your accomplishments never seem to satisfy you
(I can’t even list any accomplishments. Nothing I do is impressive to me.)
3) You feel you must impress others with your intelligence or accomplishments to get them to like and respect you.
(I can’t get close to people because I’m not interesting, pretty or successful enough to deserve friendship.)
4) If you make a mistake or fail to achieve an important goal, you become self-critical and feel like a failure as a human being.
(Once I dropped an egg and had a panic attack. I attached moral value to things like dropping an egg, messing up a recipe, not getting everything done. “Failing” at these things meant I was a failure at everything and, thus, a bad person.)
5) You think you must always be strong and in control of your emotions.
            (After I got divorced, I was “fine.”)

Perfectionism doesn’t mean you’re organized all the time, or always look put together. It means that you see things in black and white. You’re either the best/perfect, or you suck.

“I’m either the prettiest, or I’m hideously ugly.”
“If I say something wrong, I won’t have any friends.”
“Everyone must like me, or no one likes me.”
“Everyone must love me, or I’m unlovable.”
“If I make a mistake, people will think less of me.”
“I won’t be good at ___, so I’m not even going to try.”
“If my house isn’t clean, I’m lazy and dirty.”

Perfectionism is the reason I stopped living:
·   I don’t want to get a job unless it’s the best job ever and I can do it perfectly.
·   I don’t want to take the GRE unless I can get a perfect score.
·   I don’t want to go back to school unless I know I’ll get all A’s.
·   I don’t want to date unless I’m more interesting than anyone else they’ve ever dated.
·   I don’t want to try a yoga class because I’ve never done it before and I might embarrass myself.
I basically took every interest or goal I’ve ever had and said to myself,
You can’t do it perfectly, so don’t even try. It’s not worth doing if you’re not the best.”
I always wanted to do everything “right.” I always wanted to be “right.” But in the pursuit of “rightness” I was usually wrong. Making a mistake doesn’t mean I’m not likable. It’s not possible to be “the prettiest” because beauty is so subjective. Getting a B doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Not being the thinnest doesn’t make me fat. All the messages I told myself were totally illogical and just WRONG.

Frank served a purpose in my life. With him I was able to consolidate my perfectionism into one focused area: Anorexia. I COULD be the best at anorexia. I was the littlest person I knew. Even though I couldn’t see a difference between myself and them, I knew my weight and I knew I weighed less. As long as I could be perfect at anorexia, it was ok to not try the other things.

Dumping Frank means I’m going to have a lot of extra time to pursue new interests, which is exciting, but also terrifying. I know I’m going to not be the best at some things. I might even fail sometimes. But if you fall as you move forward, you’re still falling forward.