My Journey to Recovery: Anorexia

Song of Solomon 4-7

The post I am about to share is one on my list of unfinished blog posts I spoke about a few months back. It is one of the posts I started but let linger. I always found a reason to hold back. In fact, even now, I find myself grasping a reason to hold back.

Yet, I have thought about this blog post quite a bit recently. I find myself stumped and going back to this topic. I find God calling me to write this. I find Him calling me to share my heart and one of my biggest struggles to date.

So, here we are.

When it comes to eating food, I pride myself on having impeccable control. I can say no to almost any sweet. If I do crave a sweet, I give myself two hours and see if I still crave it then. If I do, I eat it. If I don’t crave it, I don’t eat it.

My self-control comes from a natural stubborn persistence I have always had. But, it also comes from my former struggle with anorexia.

I was anorexic for most of my high school years. It began to take root in middle school but really flourished in high school. It was an anchor in my life, though it took me nearly five years to see it as such.

Honestly, I use many unhealthy habits to cope with life’s messiness. I used my anorexia to feel better about my disability. In middle school, I really began to understand I was disabled and the physical challenges that came along with it.

Middle school also came with taunting and snickers. Middle school was my catapult of feeling ashamed for who I was and who God created me to be. So, I worked to gain control over other areas of my physical being. Thus, anorexia.

Anorexia is different for everyone, just like any struggle. But, from all the testimonies I have ever heard, the mindset of someone with anorexia is fairly common. In my mind, I believed there was something wrong with me. I believed I was fat, although I was barely 90 pounds and about five feet tall.

I believed that if I controlled my weight people would no longer notice me for my restrictions. I believed that if I controlled my weight people would no longer see my disability. Rather, they would notice me on a heart level.

I calorie counted. I ate only when I needed to, which usually meant just dinner at home. I reached for healthy foods. I practically lived off apples and pretzels. I constantly picked at my food. Usually, I only ate a couple bites of protein and carbs in my school lunches. I created this mental list of foods I was and was not allowed to eat and how much.

I freaked out whenever my family went to a restaurant because I knew it would be difficult to find a food that met the restrictions. Usually, I’d order a light dish and avoid any appetizer or chips. It also meant I usually had leftovers.

During this time, I ran about six miles each morning. I also studied up on a plethora of books on health and what to avoid at popular fast food chains. I constantly weighed myself. I did not seek counsel or tell anyone.

I hid this struggle. I was alone in this struggle.

I think the hardest part of it all was even when I did passive-aggressively hint at a struggle with anorexia, no one believed me since I was already a naturally skinny person. But, I knew what I dealt with was real. My thought attitude made this evident.

On a separate, yet related note, even before I was anorexic, I had people tell me I needed to gain weight, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that people did not notice my behaviors or weight change.

In fact, as I look back now, I think those comments only pushed me further in my spiral because I wanted to do anything but what people were telling me. I was tired of people telling me what I should or should not do about my weight.

Thankfully, I can say I am no longer anorexic. I haven’t been for nearly five years now. Honestly, there wasn’t any monumental moment that made me stop either. If anything, I think going to college saved me.

I was way too busy and stressed to skip out on meals. I simply came to the realization that if I did not stop, I wouldn’t be able to function properly. I did not go to a clinic, although I know a lot of people do.

But, those thought attitudes and lies still persist, occasionally. Part of the reason why I am sharing this includes those thoughts nearly came back in full swing about six months ago. I had a doctor tell me if I lost any more weight, I’d be an unhealthy weight. The doctor said I looked nearly ten pounds lighter than my appointment a year prior.

The observation caught me off guard because I wasn’t even trying to lose weight! I think my life had just been so stressful that I naturally lost the weight. Let me tell you, that one comment was all it took to replant the devil’s lies in my head. I found myself feeling like I needed to relive that portion of my life.

Thankfully, I was honest with my husband. I told him that I could feel those thoughts creeping back. I could feel myself wanting to check my weight, obsessively desiring to have a flat stomach. He knew I wouldn’t fully resort back to my anorexic days. But, he was aware the lies I once told myself found their way back.

In order to not slip back into my former ways, after the doctor appointment, I actively tried to gain weight. I didn’t necessarily change what I did as far as food consumption goes, for my diet isn’t the healthiest but it isn’t terrible either.

However, I did try to reduce my stress level. Six months later, I don’t think it’s really made a difference. But, that could be just because it’s my body. Nevertheless, I also think it’s because I have an extremely high metabolism due to my cerebral palsy.

Even after all this time, I still get comments about my skinniness and need to gain weight. I probably always will. But, those that know me well know that I love food. I don’t skip meals anymore.

In fact, my body won’t let me. I always tell my husband I think God gave me my hypoglycemia to ensure I wouldn’t be anorexic again. God knows me well enough to know it’s extremely easy for me to fall back into old habits.

I tell you this: It’s still hard. Even after all these years and knowing the truth about needing to care for my body, it is still hard.

My body naturally fluctuates between the same 10 pounds. I still find myself wanting to be skinnier some days, even though I am anywhere from a size 00 to a 1, depending on the brand and style.

I don’t struggle with it the way that I used to, but I do struggle. Now, I spend each day constantly trying to remind myself that my beauty is found in Christ. Some days, it is easier to remember than others.

Thankfully, I am at a point in my life where I am open to talking about it. I don’t think this will be the only time I will talk about it on this platform. Although, it’s still something I am learning more people should discuss freely, including myself. It seems like this is an area of my life I am ashamed of more than others, though I know it is a common struggle in society.

But, like most struggles, anorexia is often a silent, lonely experience, which is why it can be extremely hard to come to terms with and reach a point of positive, honest discussion. Please let me know if you would like to know more about this part of my life story and testimony.

Regardless, I hope this post is helpful for someone. If you can identify with any of the tendencies or lies I discussed, you are not alone. I hope and pray that you can confide in someone and bring your struggle to the light.

Satan is using your struggle in darkness to harm you more, brother and sister. Knock him off his feet. Blind him with the truth that you are not alone. Blind him with the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

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Shattering the Stigma: Physical Therapy

There is no greater disabillity - Robert M. Hensel

I recently closed a chapter of my life that I was not ready to close. I finished another round of physical therapy. I did not think I would ever say I was sad to see physical therapy come to an end.

In fact, I usually count down the sessions until the last one. Usually, I long to be done before I even begin. This is because I have spent most of my life harboring strong stigma toward physical therapy. All that changed in this last round.

For those you who do not know, I was born with the physical disability cerebral palsy. If you want to know more of my general thoughts about cerebral palsy, read this or this. Regardless, it has caused me to have therapy off and on throughout my whole life.

Here’s a glimpse into what my history of physical therapy has been like. So, I have had a handful of physical therapists in the last twenty some odd years.

The first one I had I saw nearly every week during grade school. Altogether, I think I saw him for about six years. I was quite the stubborn child, so I often did not please him. I got on his nerves so much that one day he directly told my mom in a meeting, “I can’t work with your daughter anymore. I can’t handle her.”

Thankfully, I was not at the meeting. But, it didn’t hurt any less when my mom told me that was why I would no longer have physical therapy. Welcome to one of the worst statements a former orphan could ever hear. In grade school, that translated to me as, “You are too terrible for me. You are too broken.”

Welcome to the stigma.

Welcome to the start of a gut-wrenching anxiety toward therapy.  From that point on, I dreaded meeting new physical therapists. I was always afraid they would be like my last one. I was afraid they would reach a point of no longer wanting to deal with me.

From that point on, I abhorred physical therapy. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I did all I could to push it off or not do it. I managed to do so until I was married. After meeting with a new general physician, he said I ought to have therapy again.

I was okay with this at the time because I had a therapist in mind. A friend of mine recommended one. She knew of my history with physical therapy, so I knew she did not make the recommendation light-heartedly. As you can imagine, I was really looking forward to meeting with this recommendation. But alas, I did not get the referral for who I wanted.

The therapist I ended up seeing instead practically tried to “fix” my cerebral palsy. Instead of trying to help me cope and manage my disability, she tried to reverse it. She tried to get rid of it, treating it like it was an ugly problem that needed to go away. She acted like she only saw me for my disability rather than as a human worth getting to know who also happened to have cerebral palsy.

Fast forward about a year later, another doctor recommends physical therapy. Of course, I strongly oppose. I wasn’t up for it in the slightest. It would take seeing the doctor again and then some extra months before I decided to take the plunge.

I eventually reached a point in my life when I knew I needed to go if I wanted to take control of my disability. I can assure you, this time around, I was extra adamant about getting the proper referral. I did all I could to make sure I wouldn’t get anyone else. In fact, I even decided that if I didn’t get the referral, I wouldn’t agree to it. It was too great a risk otherwise.

Guess what? I got the referral. Praise God! Yet, I was still hesitant. I made my past experiences clear to her. I made it clear that I was there with a lifelong load of stigma, fear, and trepidation. She took my words to heart.

For the first time in my life, a physical therapist treated me like a human. For the first time in my life, I had someone who saw me for Renata, not for cerebral palsy. For the first time in my life, I had someone treat me well. I had someone who acknowledged my past and did everything she could to give me a better future.

And let me tell you, it made all the difference. In my short three months with her, I got to know her. I developed a connection with her. I enjoyed going to physical therapy. I wanted to go. I wanted to learn what else I could do to help myself. Most importantly, I wanted to meet with someone who cared for me at a heart level, not a physical one.

The stigma was shattered.

So, now, I find my heart breaking as I see the journey come to an end. I find my heart breaking as it means I no longer get to know someone more. My heart is filled with gratitude and thanks to God for blessing me with a tremendously positive physical therapy experience.

But, I also find my heart angry and confused toward God as I wonder why the wonderful experience had to end. Thankfully, my sweet husband reminded me, that even though it had to end, it does not mean I can’t meet with her again.

After all, I am at a point in my life where I need physical therapy about once every two years. My sweet husband assured me that even though this may be a temporary end, I now know there is someone I trust and respect when it comes time to have therapy again.

My sweet husband reminded me that I longer have to walk into a physical therapy session with a gut-wrenching feeling filled with anxiety, fear, and trepidation. Instead, I can know with assurance, I have someone in my life who shattered the stigma when I needed it most. I can reflect on God’s faithfulness during a valley of confusion and pain.

I tell you this: If you can relate to my experience or this stigma in any way, you are not alone. You are not in the valley alone. Something tells me this experience is fairly common. Nevertheless, I say, hang in there, please. God will surprise you when you least expect it.

He will answer your prayers a thousand times over. And before you know it, you, too, will long for the journey to never end.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

My Education: Finding Joy in the Process

John Wooden-joy-journey-quote

I don’t know about you, guys, but I seriously cannot believe it is already mid-October. How is that even possible? It seems like every passing year goes by quicker than the last.

It feels like all I have done in the past 10 months is school and work. On an even crazier note, I will have less than a year of courses left, Lord willing, after this week.

I AM SO EXCITED.

These past 10 months have caused me to understand a great lesson about schooling and education. That is, even when we have the choice to study a major in school, we can be excited about it yet still not enjoy the process.

Let me explain.

As I’ve shared before, I love studying communication. I love learning how I can be a better communicator. I love learning more about people and relationships in general. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I picked the major.

But, there can be times when I read a chapter or two and absolutely dislike what I am reading. Or, I can find myself engulfed by the content.

It is a common tension of education and, honestly, life in general. How does one balance enjoyment and dislike of a task? I think we can try our best, but I don’t think it is a constant.

I don’t think that is bad either We need the ebb and flow. We need the highs and the lows. They are part of human nature. They are part of being sinful human beings.

It is natural to put gratitude second. It is natural to want more rather be content with what we have. That ebb and flow can take away our gratitude or it can ignite it.

Plus, that ebb and flow can be the exact reminder that we need to realize every job has its ups and down. Every job has its difficulties. Schooling via a proper degree or an apprentice can prepare us for said difficulties. They may not explain them to their fullest capacities. But, those difficulties, with the right heart attitude, should not take away one’s passion.

For, even in the high and lows of my education, I have not lost the passion for what I am studying. I may have wanted to step away from it for a little bit. But, I did not lose my intrigue or wonder for communication.

I think the same principle can be attached to our everyday lives. In fact, I am trying to apply it in my own life as I go through a new season in my job. I am trying to remind myself why I have a passion for what I do, instead of focusing on the stressors.

Believe me, it is hard for me some, if not most, days right now. But, I know the passion is there. Otherwise, I would’ve left already.

So, you find me with nearly less than a year left to my education. I am a little tired and worn, but I am certain I am on the right path for God’s plans in my life.

I look forward to the day, Lord willing, that I declare I have officially completed my undergraduate degree. Until then, I ask that you’d pray for me in my final stretch of a long journey.

And my call to you is this: Give yourself grace. The process of receiving a degree or achieving any goal may not be glamorous all the time, but you are on that path for a reason. Remind yourself of the end goal.

Find ways to celebrate small milestones along the way. For example, I pop little confetti poppers each time I finish a course. And in time, you will find a balance between joy and trial in the process, even if your light of gratitude is a little dim for a short while.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).

My Byta: A Product I Believe In

MY-BYTA-POST-PIC

Generally speaking, I am not typically one to boast about a product or service. Therefore, when I do, I truly believe in it and what it provides. A few years back, I wrote a post about what makes a product successful.

Since that post, I have had a handful of products I truly believed in and was excited about. But, I do mean only a few.

Normally, sharing about one of those products is not something I’d do on this platform. But, I figured it was fitting this time around since this blog is called coffee soothes the soul.

Therefore, if I am going to share about a product I believe in, it is going to be coffee related. So, what is this product?

This product is the byta, which is a double wall, vacuum sealed BPA-free stainless steel cup. Byta is Swedish for “to exchange or swap.”

Before I share more about it, I will say, I was excited to try it out, but I was also skeptical about it.

For starters, I asked the infamous questions most consumers ask when a new product comes out, “What makes this product special? What makes it worth my time and money over another just like it?” Yes, I am alluding to, “What makes it different than a Yeti?”

Furthermore, I am not typically one who enjoys using stainless steel coffee travel mugs because they make coffee taste awkward, almost as if the steel residue is part of the beverage. I don’t quite know how to accurately describe it. But, those who’ve experienced it definitely know what I am talking about.

Not only was I skeptical about the stainless steel aftertaste, but I was also skeptical about the size of the mug.

Nearly every stainless steel mug is unnecessarily bulky and cannot fit in a cup holder, which is why I haven’t jumped on the Yeti bandwagon. As much as I love having my coffee stay hot for a good portion of the day, I don’t want to awkwardly fiddle with an excessively large mug in the process.

Nevertheless, these two exact skepticisms that I had toward the travel mug (and really any travel mug for that matter), byta set out to challenge.

After all, one of the co-founders is a writer, Jedidiah Jenkins, who practically lives in coffee shops. Therefore, I knew he understood the struggle that is finding a quality travel mug that keeps a beverage hot or cold for a long period of time but is also comfortable.

I also knew he had a full grasp on the number of disposable coffee cups that go to waste.

Now, I wouldn’t say I am a conservation fanatic, but I do understand their mission to make even a small impact in a world where 500 billion disposable cups are produced every year and 1 million disposable cups end up in landfills every minute.

So, I was willing to give it a shot, especially as a coffee fanatic. As you all know, I don’t drink coffee just for the caffeine. I drink it for the quality. I drink it for the people and experiences that come when you share it with others.

Fast forward four months since their unveiling.

I’ve had my mug in the California Poppy Orange color for a couple months now. I’ve experimented with it a lot. I wanted to see it for myself before I made a final decision—before I decided if I wanted to get more.

I’ve put warm beverages in it. I’ve put cold beverages in it. I’ve put coffee drinks in it. I’ve put non-coffee drinks in it.

Let me tell you, it works!

I wasn’t at all surprised beverages stay hot for an extended period of time, which is fantastic because I refuse to drink lukewarm coffee. Beverages stay cold for an extended period of time as well. But, I mainly use mine for hot drinks.

What can I say? I am a coffee snob/connoisseur. I was pleasantly surprised to not have the interior leave a stainless steel aftertaste either!

Plus, I LOVE the size of the mug.

The mug is 16oz, which is the same size as a Starbucks grande beverage. So, I am not giving up quantity since I normally order a grande. Plus, it truly can fit in any cup holder. I feel like I am holding a regular ‘ole glass when I use it, not a fat cylinder of some kind.

However, my favorite part of the mug that surprised me is…I get excited to use it!

As of now, I typically only use it on Saturdays when I go out and about to a local coffee shop. So, I have something I get to look forward to. Most importantly, it truly is a wonderful feeling to know I don’t have to take home a disposable cup.

Nevertheless, like any product, it does have its downfalls.

My biggest complaint is, even though I do love that the cup is splash proof, it isn’t leak proof, which the company has addressed. Therefore, it can be tricky to carry when a barista fills the mug to the brim.

For, coffee, especially, tends to seep through the slider. I think the slider could have been made with better quality. Although, it is extra handy to have the option to insert a straw when drinking cold beverages!

Also, the paint/color quality could be better, in my opinion. It already seems like it’s about to chip off. Granted, I could be overanalyzing it. Regardless, the color sure is gorgeous.

I am sure this a frequent complaint as well, but the shipping time sure is long. It took eight weeks for mine to come and I didn’t get one of their more popular colors. Those take even longer!

Hopefully, it won’t take as long as the business continues to grow. However, my guess is, they did not expect the business to take off as well or as quickly.

It’s easy to understand why when actress Sophia Bush, Youtuber Liza Koshy, and countless others promote it. Collectively, Bush and Koshy have nearly 14 million followers on their Instagram accounts alone. That’s not including their other social media platforms.

Yeah, in case you couldn’t figure that out, that’s a lot of people from all over the world. Even if only five percent of their followers chose to buy it, they’d sell well over 500,000.

Overall, though, I am rather impressed with the mug. My husband plans on getting one, too. Of course, I’d love to see them come out with more colors.

If you are a coffee fanatic like myself who believes in keeping a cup of coffee hot until the end, I’d recommend it.

The mug is $29.00.

It may seem a little pricey when considering it’s a travel mug. But, I think it’s worth it, especially if you only get one to see what it’s all about. Then, you can decide for yourself if it’s worth getting more.

Either way, you get a quality mug and you get to make a small impact on the world, too!

Regardless, if you are interested to learn more about the product, check out the website. Maybe even pick a color for yourself while you are at it!

Do you all have any great product recommendations that you were skeptical of at first but totally love now? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I can assure you this will not be a regular part of my blog, nor is this a sponsored post. Like I said, I just really love coffee, so if I am going to share a product I love, you bet it’ll be coffee related.

I hope you all have had a blessed week. Thanks for following this coffee connoisseur.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Thank you dearly for taking time out of your lives to read my blog! Your support means the world to me. I praise God you found this blog, whether you stumbled upon it accidentally or sought it out intentionally.

I’d LOVE to hear from you all! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at coffee.soothes.the.soul@gmail.com.

I pray God would bless you and be with you always, no matter where you find yourselves in life.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 (NIV).