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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.

False.

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.

False.

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.

False.

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.


BOOBS

BOOBS

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,

“HEY, MY FACE IS ABOUT 6 INCHES NORTH OF THERE.”

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

Explanation

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
Antiques
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
Airports
Cleaning
Hair Serum (the coconut kind)
Rainbows/Sunshowers
“God Light”
Telling stories
Sharpies
Wedding TV Shows
The Children’s Section of Barnes and Nobel
Bowling
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
Pictures
Farmer’s markets
My sister’s sense of humor and laugh
My brothers’ hugs and protectiveness
Mani/Pedi
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”
PARKOR!
“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.
Ouch.

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.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meet Our Mascot: Sarah (aka: "I'm Gonna Be OK!")

Meet Our Mascot: Sarah

Today is my one month anniversary at Center for Change. I’m so grateful I’m here. It’s really hard (I’ve said that a billion times, but it’s worth repeating: RECOVERY IS HARD), but I’m making progress, I feel my mind changing and I know that I’m one of the lucky ones just to be here. In honor of my one month anniversary, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our Mascot, my little (younger) sister Sarah.

One day shortly after arriving at the Center for Change I was walking into a meal. I started “fake” running, shaking my arms and saying, “I’M GONNA BE OK!!” I laughed to myself, and then realized no one else knew why that was funny. So I told them this story, and luckily Sarah was kind enough to let me share it with all of you.

Sarah had a bone graft on her shoulder a while ago. I’ve never had a bone graft, but basically they cut through your skin and muscle, shave down your bone and put in bone from a donor. That’s my scientific explanation.

Anyway, a bone graft hurts like crazy. It was hard to watch her the week after her surgery because she was in so much pain. She’s a tough girl and not one to complain, so seeing her struggling was very hard.
The pain killers she was on had some crazy side effects. She’s had surgery on her shoulder before, and we always knew she was sensitive to medications, but this was a whole new level of pain for her, and a whole new level of pain killers.

One day I came home to find her running up and down our back yard, waving her arms and saying,        
“I’M GONNA BE OK!!!”
Naturally I thought something horrible was happening to my poor sister’s brain, so I ran to find my mom. My mom laughed and said that Sarah’s pain killers meshed with some anxiety, making her feel very overwhelmed and a little loopy. She couldn’t relax; she was exhausted and frustrated, so Mom in all her wisdom suggested she go out in the yard and burn some energy so she could rest.

WISDOM.
Always, ALWAYS listen to your momma.
           
By the time I finished telling the story, my friends here had fallen in love with my sister. We all agreed that her technique for managing stress was genius. It has become the war cry whenever any of us confront something difficult. A meal, a rough therapy session, family groups, an outing, general anxiety:
Sarah Mascot "I'm gonna be OK!"
“I’M GONNA BE OK!!!”
And we are. We are gonna be ok.

Sarah is my personal hero/mascot for another reason. She’s always been an intuitive eater, never had an eating disorder, has great body confidence and acceptance. She can down Wingdome #7’s like they’re Cheerios. She has a relationship with food that I envy and admire, and even though she’s my little sister, I look up to her so much.

And not just because she’s 5’10.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Camilla and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Body Image Day

Camilla and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Body Image Day

My clothes don’t fit. My clothes don’t fit. My clothes don’t fit.

“I feel fat.”

“Fat is not a feeling.”

Fine,
I feel ugly. I feel out of control. I feel overwhelmed.
And yes, fat is a feeling. It’s the feeling of being bloated and noticing your clothes getting tighter.

I don’t like my body today. I’m sorry, body. I don’t want to be mean to you but you’re grossing me out right now.

I can’t see my ribs as much. My arms aren’t as sinewy as they were. My thighs are closer to touching. I have fat on my rear end. My tail bone no longer protrudes. My back hip bones aren’t sunken in anymore.

I’m uncomfortable. I’m very hot because my metabolism is starting to work again. My dietician says I’m “maintaining” at this weight and may need another increase. I can’t imagine eating more than I am right now.

I’m sorry to be a negative Nancy, but all of these feelings are exacerbated by my clothing. I can feel my clothing getting tighter, even my pajamas. I don’t feel comfortable in anything except my little brother’s extra large band sweatshirt. Which I’m not allowed to wear, except to bed and on weekends.

Being anorexic was hard work, but it did something for me. When a million things in my life overwhelmed me and I felt out of control, anorexia gave me something specific and singular to focus on. I could ignore all the hard things and just be successful with Frank. I wasn’t happy, but I had some semblance of success and control.
Seeing and feeling my body change is really hard. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, but I loved being skeletal. I didn’t like being lethargic and depressed, but I wish I could keep the skinny part.

But that’s not possible. I can’t be 95 pounds AND recovered. I can’t be 100 pounds AND be healthy and happy. I can’t. And I CHOOSE RECOVERY. Even when it’s hard . . .

I’m pouring out of my clothes. I think I am more unattractive and sloppy then ever before. I don’t feel real, or human. Bacteria feeding on fecal matter are more human than I.

I’m humiliated by how difficult this is for me. If anyone out there feels this way, please know you’re not alone. My heart aches for you. Keep hope that tomorrow will be better.

“Some Days are Like That, Even In Australia.”

[Note: Camilla was worried that this was really negative, but in talking to me she also said: "At least I can talk about it. At least I can feel. At least I recognize it. At least I'm willing to keep working at it ... and that's progress!]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Define "Glamorous"

Define "Glamorous"

I have to rant a little bit. I received a concerned letter from a kind person who was worried that my blog was “glamorizing” eating disorders. That really upset me, not because they said something (actually I’m glad they did), but because I have such strong feelings about “pro-anorexia/bulimia” websites.

Let me just set the record straight. [Note: What follows may upset some people. For that, I am sorry, but you need to hear the truth. I am being honest ... and blunt.]

No one with an eating disorder would wish it on ANYONE. It is a prison. It is hell on earth and in your mind. It is torture. Every girl here wishes she could have a “normal” relationship with food.

Eating Disorders are not glamorous. They are gross.

You get a hairy peach-fuzz all over your body. You veins bulge and your hair falls out in clumps. You skin becomes dry and chapped and feels like sandpaper. Your nails are brittle.

You eat gross things like cauliflower and hot sauce, mustard with a spoon, pickle juice, whipped cream with salt, butter flour and sugar mixed together. When you’re starving you obsess about food and all sense of what tastes good goes out the window. I’ve eaten dry cake mix out of a box. I’ve eaten spoonfuls of mayonnaise.

If you’re bulimic you spend time with your head in a toilet. Your head and mouth are right next to where people urinate and defecate. Don’t think you’re not getting that bacterium in your mouth, because you probably are. All the blood rushes to your head and face when you purge. Your cheeks swell. You get mouth and throat sores. Your teeth look rotten and your breath and fingers smell like vomit.

Sometimes you might hide in your room and purge. Then you have to hide bags of vomit in your closet or under your bed. You get it on your carpet and your sheets. Sometimes you might chew food and then spit it into empty water bottles. Vomiting can cause your esophagus to rupture, which will kill you. And there you’d be: dead in a pile of blood and vomit.

You might start drinking inordinate amounts of soda and coffee. You exercise for hours and hours and people stare and make comments. You don’t want to shower because you hate seeing your body, so you stink.

If you decide to use laxatives you might have explosive diarrhea. You might even you defecate in your pants because your muscles are weak and you can’t hold it in. Your skin starts to hang off your body and you look wrinkly and much older than you are. Your eyes look dead. They lose their moisture and can turn yellow. Your skin looks sallow and dull and you have dark circles under your eyes. Your eyelashes fall out. People think you’re a drug addict.

You don’t care about getting dressed because your body isn’t worth dressing. So you wear pajamas all day and don’t bother with makeup. You don’t feel. You can’t love. You lose any interest in dating, or even a desire to be close to someone.

The Awful Truth About Pro-Anorexia Websites
There is a big difference between this blog, which tells of my terrible struggle with my eating disorder, and pro-anorexia websites.
The men (yes, they’re mostly men) who run these pro-ana sites are pedophiles. Why else would they solicit pictures of anorexic women? It’s because anorexic women look like small children.
In addition the operators of these websites clearly don’t have eating disorders. I know this for two very different reasons:
1) Eating disorders are SUPER competitive. No eating disorder wants the competition or to feel like someone else is “better” at it.
2) Someone with this would never want anyone else to feel trapped this way. It is a prison. It is a lonely, isolated HELL that makes you CRAVE death. It is a grave. It will kill you. Period.

You want glamor? Anorexia, or any eating disorder, is NOT glamorous.
Going to the bathroom with a door open and someone standing outside listening to me is more glamorous than an eating disorder. Not being able to flush my own toilet is more glamorous than an eating disorder. Being weighed in a hospital gown is more glamorous. Recovery and everything that comes with it – being gassy and sweaty and hyper-metabolic and hairy – is more glamorous because it means I’ve chosen LIFE.

And LIVING a real LIFE is glamorous.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Secret Affair

My Secret Affair

For those of you who are new here, Frank is my eating disorder. He is horrible. He is abusive. And I’ve finally left him.

When Frank first came into my life he didn’t have to try very hard to woo me. I dove into his arms willingly and that was it. I was smitten. He spent the rest of our affair making up for the fact that he never wooed me in the beginning. This meant taking me away from everything. He loved to hole up, just the two of us. Romantic, right?

WRONG.

Frank (and every eating disorder/abusive relationship) thrives on secrecy. Secrecy is like air to Frank. And Frank is a smooth talker,

“Come with me, Camilla. It will be wonderful. Just you and me. You don’t need your family and friends because you have ME. I love you. I make everything else in your life slip away. I can take you away from everything that makes you crazy or sad. Come away with me. Just us.”

And so I listened to him. I LIED for him. I chose to go away with him. Every time I wound up hurting, and every time he promised that next time would be better. I didn’t believe I was strong enough to leave him.

Which brings me to last week. Last week someone here (at my treatment center) asked me if I thought posting blog entries was a good idea; whether I was sharing too much about Frank and my experience here in treatment. I know they were watching out for my well being and my recovery, but at the time I felt like I’d done something wrong. I promised I’d think about it and really try to examine whether my blog is helping me or hurting me. 
I realized something.
Frank is only alive because I kept going away with him, alone. I wasn’t willing to talk about him. I kept our relationship covered and hidden. So now that I’m trying to leave him, why were people asking me to keep it private?

Eating disorders are taboo. We don’t talk about them because they’re misunderstood (i.e. “Why don’t you just eat?”), embarrassing, and because talking about your eating disorder threatens its survival. Frank knew if he could keep me quiet, I would remain in his arms for the rest of my life. And he would make sure that “the rest of my life” would be miserable ... and short.

After thinking and praying about whether sharing my eating disorder, my experience with Frank, is the right thing, I’ve come to the conclusion that I CANNOT HIDE. My affair with Frank can’t keep being secret. Secrets allow the Franks of the world to multiply like a virus. Frank -- and others like him -- become romanticized by the media. Secrets allow them to THRIVE like a parasite.

And treatment shouldn’t be a secret either. We shouldn’t pretend that it’s easy to recover. It’s freaking hard. It sucks some days. But it doesn’t suck as bad as being lied to and beaten down and killed by Frank. It doesn’t suck as bad as losing the trust of your family and watching your relationships die. It doesn’t hurt as bad as knowing you might have squashed any chance you have at having children. It doesn’t hurt as bad as bleeding to death from an esophageal hemorrhage. Or a heart attack. Or kidney failure.

I’m not embarrassed that I’m here. NOT AT ALL. I’m PROUD that I reached out for help. I’m proud of every girl here for accepting help and working hard to be well. I’m PROUD of every person out there who wants recovery!

A friend at Opal (a Seattle-based out-patient treatment center) once yelled in group, “I’M F---ING BULIMIC!” She wasn’t saying it with pride; she was saying it as a release. She was letting her addiction and her disorder OUT into the OPEN where it could be dealt with and killed. You can’t squash a spider that won’t come out of the wall, and you can’t kill a Frank that's stuck in your head and hidden.

I’M FREAKING ANOREXIC!
I WAS NOT ABLE STOP THIS COMPULSION WITHOUT HELP!
I’M AT A MENTAL HOSPITAL GETTING HELP!
FRANK, I’M LEAVING YOU! YOU CANNOT HURT ME OR CONTROL ME ANYMORE!

Having a clear mind and feeling happy is SO MUCH BETTER than running into the arms of Frank every time I don’t want to deal with life. I’m no longer DYING.

Not being able to flush my own poop is soooo worth the life I’m going to have.
Having to eat a lot is so worth the things my body is going to let me do when I gain muscle and energy.
The babies I’m going to have, the relationships that I will have, getting my family back are worth so much more than the massive headaches I get from crying.
LIFE is worth so much more than having to dig into my painful issues and talk about them out loud and feel those feelings.

It’s like opening a wound that didn’t heal right and cleaning out the infection. It hurts like hell, but getting new stitches and starting to REALLY heal is worth any temporary pain. The pain is excruciating, but temporary, and freedom from Frank is FOREVER.
And forever is a WONDERFULLY long time.

UPDATE: Camilla's Story Is On TV SUNDAY MORNING in Salt Lake City! AND a benefit is coming!

Sunday morning Nov. 18, as part of KSL-TV News Sunday Edition with Richard Piatt, an extended story about Camilla's eating disorder  aired, including interviews with Camilla's dad and a therapist specializing in eating disorders. (Salt Lake City Channel 5). If you go to KSL.com and do a search for "anorexia" and "Sunday Edition", you should be able to find the link (click on the Segment 2 link).
For those of you (like me) who couldn't get onto KSL.com's video of Camilla's extended story, including an interview with me and an eating disorder therapist, you can try this YouTube link: http://youtu.be/ofFkR77QFYg?hd=1
For those of you who couldn't tune in to previous stories, here's some links for both the Seattle KOMO 4 and the KSL News videos! (From her Dad).
 1) KSL TV News last night: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22944333&nid=148&title=woman-battles-anorexia-with-baking&s_cid=featured-4
2) KOMO News 4 a couple of weeks ago: http://www.k...

omonews.com/news/problemsolvers/176536101.html?tab=video


 Here is the benefit dinner her friend Jory is putting together for Camilla here in Salt Lake City (we are also working on one in Seattle area):
http://www.facebook.com/events/500293310002697/

UPDATE: A new on-line gaming fund raising event will take place Dec. 9-15. Sign up on Facebook (click for more details) -- https://www.facebook.com/events/428420937211398/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Decent Proposal

A Decent Proposal

There’s an episode of Sex and the City when Carrie decides to get married to herself. I was thinking of that episode today because I found myself wondering who I am, what are my interests, what’s my favorite color, who's my favorite band? What kinds of books do I like?

I’ve learned during this process that I’ve spent my life trying to have a wide variety of interests, not because I’m actually interested in everything, but because it makes me likable to a vast array of personalities. If someone asks me my favorite band, the true answer is: “I have no idea.” But my spoken answer is usually, “[insert whatever I think will impress you here]_.”

I’ve been in a relationship with me for 29 years. And I’ve been cheating on myself for about18 of those years. I’m talking emotional and physical infidelity. I’ve cheated predominantly with Frank, but also with other people who I’ve allowed to treat me poorly. I’m not super surprised that I cheated. It’s really hard to be faithful to someone you don’t love. And it’s REALLY hard to love someone you don’t know. But I’m finding myself, and I’m liking what I’m finding, and I don’t want to let me go . . .

So here it is. My proposal to myself. I don’t think I’m ready to marry me, YET. But I know I will. So I have to do this now or someone else might snatch me up.

Camilla Esther Kuhns:
I’ve known you for 29 years and I’m so sorry that I haven’t always treated you with the love and kindness that a child of God deserves. You are strong. You are a good person. You have big “Disney” eyes and a great jaw line. And you deserve to be loved. I want to be there when you learn your favorite color. I want to be there when you discover true health. I want to support you as you learn to accept your body. I want to show you off when you become the woman I know you’re capable of being. You have a generous heart. You see the good in people, maybe to a fault. You have so much potential.
I promise to be gentle with you, to be forgiving, to be kind, and to be there to support you as you learn and heal. I promise to actively protect you from Frank, and remind you that you don’t need him, or anyone else who doesn’t treat you well. I promise to remind you daily that you are ok just the way God made you. That you are loved by your Heavenly Father, and that you are loved by YOU. I can’t let you go because life won’t be worthwhile unless you are actively participating in it.
Camilla, will you marry me?

Yes, self. Yes I will.

Hurray! I’m engaged!

Here are some things I DO know about myself:
1) I love baking. I love it so much that I have officially broken my mother’s oven and need to get her a new one. (Mom, you have permission to sell my car and get a nice oven. Maybe a double. That would be so fun!)
2) I love the Packers. Not because I was born there, but because they are the best team in the universe ever. And it’s tradition.
3) Also, I love family traditions.
4) I think it’s totally worth it to pay someone to wash my hair.
5) Zip up hoodies: I will never be too old for them. Especially when they’re new and so soft!
6) I love highly-scented laundry detergent, like Tide with Febreeze. I know nothing in nature actually smells like Febreeze but I love it anyway.

Save the Date!

We are registered at: PackersProShop.com and GreatClips.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dearest Darling Readers Of My Blog: A Plea

Written today by Camilla:
Dearest Darling Readers of my Blog:
I've been getting e-mails and letters and care packages galore! I can't even express how much your generosity has meant to all the girls here, and to me. I so appreciate all the support. There are literally not words.

My dad told me that my blog has been getting tons of visits. I'm so happy and humbled that people are taking an interest in my story and supporting my efforts to be here in treatment. I'm so grateful to be here.

I have to be honest, I'm scared that I won't be able to stay as long as I need to. I'm here in treatment, but I'm paying as I go. So far I have paid for a month, so until November 18th. In addition, I have just over $4000 that's been donated since I've arrived. I'm so scared to leave. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm safe here and I know I'm not done with the work.

Dear Reader, PLEASE PLEASE donate if you can. Or pray. Or share my blog. Or send good vibes and positive thoughts my way. I really need to be able to stay here, and two more weeks just isn't enough time. And funds are running out quickly.

Being here has literally saved my life. I need to stay and do the work to ensure that I kill Frank dead. Please help.

Much love,
Camilla

PS: Go Sounders!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It’s Not About the Food. Really.

It’s Not About the Food. Really.

I realized the other day that the times in my life when Frank was the most quiet were times when I had other things I could control. For example: School. I loved being able to look at a syllabus and see, “Ok, if I do this, this, and this I will get an A.” It’s so simple to get good grades: it’s all laid out for you. Same with the beginning of my marriage. I was meticulous about managing our bills and bank accounts, cleaning the house, dressing my husband, and trying to control him (P.S. that doesn’t work).

Suddenly I found myself divorced and graduated in the same month. I went into the “real” world and didn’t have a person or a household or school work I could “control.” I wasn’t given a stringent set of guidelines telling me how to Ace my life. Everything was objective.
What could I control?
Not my job. Not what my coworkers and bosses thought of me. What is a “perfect” employee? Ask three people and you’ll probably get three different answers. I had no concrete scale by which to measure my success.
I couldn’t control if my roommates liked my personality. Or if they washed their dishes or vacuumed. I couldn’t control the guys they dated or whether I wanted them around the house.
I couldn’t control if men liked me, or if I was loved. And when I dated I couldn’t control my boyfriends.
No one was grading my life. I needed a checklist: “If you do this, this, and this, you will get an A in life and be successful.” Nope. Not happening.
Enter Frank. . .
Yes, I could control my body.
Yes, I could beat and starve myself into whatever shape I wanted to be.
Yes, I could measure my success by a number on the scale.
Yes, I could measure my “specialness” with a BMI chart telling me if I was “normal” or “underweight.”
Those things were like huge red A+’s marking up my life. I was winning at controlling my body, and being able to focus on that made the rest of my life seem more manageable

The ironic thing is the smaller and more malnourished I became, the dumber I sounded and the slower my thought processes. If I’d actually been in school I would’ve failed miserably. I lost friends. I lost jobs. I lost myself. Winning at my eating disorder meant losing at the rest of my life.

Fail.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day, Etc.

Election Day, Etc.

It’s Election Day! I hope everyone is voting and watching the news.  We’re allowed to have the news on today, but we’re rarely in the living area of the center so I’m missing most of what’s going on. I used to watch the news every day, so I feel really disconnected from the world. This morning was the first time I’ve seen any footage of Hurricane Sandy. I can’t believe how huge and how much destruction there was. I hope all my East Coast peeps are well and safe.

A few of the girls here with me have husbands or boyfriends. Yesterday I was feeling really envious. I haven’t been interested in dating for a long time. I killed any romantic inclinations while I was in my dysfunctional relationship with Frank. He was my whole life. But now when I see girls reading e-mails and letters from their boyfriends it kind of makes my heart sad. I wish I had someone I was excited to go home to, and be healthy for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to go home to my friends and family, but it’s not the same as having a significant other. Some of the girls here are in High School and have boyfriends. I remember being in High School and being separated from my boyfriend for more than a weekend felt like ETERNITY. Ahh, young love. I kind of miss that teenage feeling; when you think your love is invincible and that you’ll end up together even if it’s impractical. That reminds me of a song by Neko Case, “I’m holding out for that teenage feeling.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t had “that teenage feeling” ever. But I’ve read about it in such treasures as “Emma” and “Twilight” . . .  *sarcasm on that last one*

Someday I’m going to be healthy and meet my Mr. Knightly/Colonel Branden and actually be nice and not push him away. And it will be EPIC. People will write stories about it. And sing songs. I hope that doesn’t make me sound unprogressive or whatever. I know I can be totally content without a Mr. Camilla in my life, but I’m a little old fashioned and, like the song says, “A house is just a house without a man. He’s the necessary evil in your plan.”

Yes, that’s a real song.

Funny story. Yesterday morning one of the girls smelled INCREDIBLE and I asked her what she had on. It was Forever Sunshine from Bath and Body Works. I said, “I LOVE their Twilight Woods lotion! I wish I had some.” Later last night I got a package from my dear friend Erin Moore. . . guess what it was? BATH AND BODY WORKS LOTION!! Hurrah!! Lotion for everyone!! It was such a fun and happy coincidence, and totally made our night. Thank you Erin!!

I’m sorry I can’t write anything deep today. Frank is yelling very loudly in my ear. He wants out. I’m uncomfortable. I had another meal increase today (my snack was a Magnum ice cream bar and gold fish crackers. It hurts a lot).  I’m trying to distract myself with this blog and the news and lots of superfluous reading. Sometimes the only way to get through a day is to think about voting, love, and Bath and Body works lotion.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Camilla's Story Goes Nationwide -- Update: WORLDWIDE! on ABC News' Website and others!

Camilla Kuhns has gone nationwide! UPDATE: INTERNATIONAL! ABC News' website picked up the KOMO 4 news, called me (her dad) and her friend Nic, and ran a story on it this weekend: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/anorexic-baker-cooking-trouble/story?id=17629180
An Italian news website picked up the story today: http://www.pianetadonna.it/salute/dieta-alimentazione/anoressica-cucina-per-pagarsi-cure.html
as did the UK Daily Mail's website MailOnline: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227964/Anorexic-woman-Camilla-Kuhns-bakes-chocolate-chip-cookies-raise-funds-treatment.html
--
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts, prayers and, of course, donations to keep her in treatment (you can donate by clicking the "Donate" button above. ) Someone commented that if everyone who read or saw the different news stories donated $5, her treatment would probably be paid for.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Make Certain You Read Back Far Enough

Just a short note from Camilla's Dad:
Camilla gives me her "blog postings" once a week, usually on Saturday. Because I also post "news" about her, about media coverage, etc., sometimes you may have read something on Tuesday or Wednesday, and not realize that, come Saturday, I'll post something BEFORE what you've read. So, if you're following her blog, make certain you go back BEFORE articles you may have already read, probably to the Sunday or Monday postings.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Have You Tried Farting?

Saturday November 3, 2012
 Have You Tried Farting?

Once upon a time my dad was complaining about an uncomfortable pain in his chest. He had just had heart surgery, so of course he was going to be uncomfortable. But my advice, when hearing about his pain, was: “Have you tried farting?”

I was dead serious.

Unfortunately he found my question insanely funny, and laughing after heart surgery is really painful. And it made him sound like an elk in rut.

Anyway, that’s become a little joke in our family. Any ailment can be cured by: “Have you tried farting?”

The other day one of my lovely friends here was complaining of chest pain so I asked her: “Have you tried farting?” She laughed. And it was lovely.

Treatment here is really hard. A lot of the time we are anxious, tired, sad, angry . . . . A lot of people here have experienced insane amounts of trauma and they’ve given up their best coping mechanism (the eating disorder). So any amount of laughter is like a rainbow, sunshine, hugs and bubbles all worked into one.

Speaking of farting and laughter, let me tell you a little something.

Because of the nature of this facility, the bathrooms are locked and we are not allowed to flush the toilets on our own. This means that someone else is flushing our poop. Yes. That happens. The first time it happened to me I apologized profusely . . . But there’s really no great way to say, “I’m so sorry, and thank you for flushing my excrement.”

Because of the nature of eating disorders, many of the patients here (myself included) are on weight restoration diets.

Also because of the nature of eating disorders, our bodies aren’t always sure what to do with the food we’re partaking of. We’ve been malnourished so long that our bodies start doing all kinds of interesting things . . .

Let’s just say any pride you might have when it comes to the bathroom goes right out the door when you admit here, and you become a gas factory.
So here we are, all very petite women, walking around totally owning up to our bodily functions. We’d make any Scouting campout look tame . . .

“Sorry guys, that was me.”
“You might want to go first because I have to poop.”
“No one sit over here because I definitely farted.”
“Wait a minute before you go in there.”

But we all laugh at each other. And I’m not going to lie, it’s great medicine.

*BUUUURP*.
Sorry.

Also: When I was little I called flatulence “Bottom Burps.” I think this is the only time I’ll be able to tell you that without it seeming totally out of context and inappropriate. Mom will be proud.

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Post is Random and I Don’t Know What To Title It: We all get it

Friday November 2, 2012
This Post is Random and I Don’t Know What To Title It.

Remember that one day when I was having a really bad day and was super anxious and struggling with my meals and feeling really depressed and overwhelmed? And then I got THREE care packages to share with my friends here??! THAT JUST HAPPENED. Oh my goodness the entire feeling on the unit changes. Chapstick, Hair Ties, Cozy Socks, and word puzzle books for everyone!!

THANK YOU!

For a wonderful hour I was completely distracted from any anxiety or discomfort, and I’m so grateful.

Now the tough stuff. . .

I’m still doing weight restoration. One of my snacks today included a Peanut Butter Twix. I know they’re trying to challenge me and my beliefs about food, but even knowing that it was really tough. I can’t explain to someone without an eating disorder how this feels. It’s emotionally exhausting. My eating disorder is my coping skill. When I’m sad, I can restrict. When I am overwhelmed, I can over exercise. When I feel like a failure, starving makes me feel powerful again. . . And here they’ve taken all those “coping skills” away and I have to actually FEEL my feelings.

Today one of my therapists talked about how a “normal” person who feels anxiety or depression would let the feeling grow, peak, and subside in a kind of up and down pattern. A person with an eating disorder, or any addiction, uses the addiction to cut off the feeling before it peaks. So they never really process it or deal with it and it gets shoved down. And the behaviors get worse. Frank is TOTALLY my coping mechanism. He helps me not feel things that are hard. After my divorce I lost a ton of weight. After Lindsey died I gained a bunch of weight and then relapsed into anorexia again. I’m having to address those tough things here WITHOUT my coping mechanism and it’s painful.
Speaking of painful, weight restoration is not fun. (Today was better than yesterday’s PB sandwich HELL, but still hard.) Luckily all the girls here are either in the same boat, or were in the same boat, or will be in the same boat soon. Not to be gross but I’ve become the burping QUEEN. My poor stomach has been empty so long it doesn’t know what to do with everything I’m feeding it. It’s actually speaking to me. LOUDLY. I’m glad I’m here because I wouldn’t be able to take my stomach out in public right now. It’s too loud and embarrassing.

*BLIPBLLOPGRRRUUUMMMGGURRRGLEPLOOP*
Yes, Stomach. I totally agree.

I’m so grateful for the girls in my unit. On bad days they hug me and cry with me and braid my hair and I know they really get it. On good days we laugh about how our bodies are going CRAZY and we’re all gassy and farting and swollen and retaining water and not allowed to shave (LOVELY, I know). Sometimes our eating disorders compete with each other. We compare ourselves to each other (I know we try not to, but it happens). I sometimes compare what I have to eat with what other girls have to eat, or how much weight I’m supposed to gain compared to other people. But with our individual “Franks” aside, we all love and support each other and it’s nice. 

AND THEY GET IT.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Challenge Day

Thursday November 1, 2012
 Challenge Day

Today’s challenge was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Challenge day is when we have to eat a food we know we have trouble eating.)
Today was also an increase day for me.
Can I make you ill with what I had to eat today?

Breakfast:
THREE blueberry muffins (T*H*R*E*E)
1 cup fruit
1 cup milk

Snack:
1 peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread

Lunch:
Ravioli with cream sauce
1 c. carrots
1 wheat roll
1 raspberry crumble bar

Snack:
½ peanut butter sandwich on white bread

Dinner:
2 chicken fingers
Fries
1 caramel brownie (I HATE BROWNIES!)
½ c coleslaw

Snack:
½ peanut butter sandwich on white bread

I can’t explain to someone without eating struggles how I feel right now. I’m glad I’m here because I can’t cope with this feeling and I want to shrink into an abyss of nothing. I’m NOT HUNGRY. I’m in pain. I don’t think I can do this. I hurt. I’m sad. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to gain weight.

But I also don’t want Frank anymore.

I wish I could have both.