BLOG


I‘m back today on the blog after learning more about Kelly Lehman, who just joined our staff last month. Kelly is a Licensed Professional Counselor who treats children, adolescents, and adults. Her areas of special interest include eating disorders, addictive behaviors, military issues (including deployments, readjustments/reintegration, and PTSD), anxiety, OCD, and marriage/couples counseling. Additionally, Kelly works well with patients who are experiencing chronic pain or have experienced medical trauma. To schedule your first appointment with Kelly Lehman, call our office at (910) 790-9500 or email administration@chrysaliscenter-nc.com. 

~ Alexis Hunter, Director of Professional Relations

Why did you decide to become a therapist?

I decided to become a therapist because I know personally how life can throw challenges at you. None of us are exempt from experiencing trials in life, and when they do occur, there is tremendous value in having a support system outside of family and friends. I have always enjoyed creating genuine, authentic relationships with people, and being able to encourage and help others is something I feel compelled to do. I feel incredibly honored to be able to serve in the role of therapist, and I take the responsibility that comes with it very seriously.

I’ve never been to therapy. What should I expect during therapy appointments with you?

I want to create a therapeutic environment that feels relaxed and natural. I am a very down to earth person, and I appreciate ‘realness.’ I provide an honest, accepting atmosphere where my clients can feel safe being who they are genuinely. I also want them to know that they will get honesty from me. I know how imperfect I am, so I make every effort not to judge another person for past life events, current circumstances, future aspirations, or emotional/behavioral struggles. While I have education and experience that can be of value to my clients, I know that I am not omniscient. I rely on my clients to share their own expertise into who they are. I value the therapeutic relationship and like to have a partnership with my clients. As a therapist, I am not a dictator, rather a facilitator. My clients should expect our sessions to be an accepting environment where they can receive education, guidance, and support. Ultimately, change is in their hands. My job is simply to encourage and facilitate that change.

What is different about talking to a therapist than talking to a good friend?

Friends and family are an amazing resource and provide a tremendous support to someone in need. A therapist can also provide this, although the relationship is a bit different from that of a friend. A therapist is likely to be more objective and can provide feedback that is not emotionally rooted. It is very easy for friends or family to become overwhelmed or frustrated by client circumstances; therefore, they may respond out of their own emotion. Their ability to remain neutral may become cloudy. They also may not have the communication skills or understanding of mental health issues to effectively support the individual in a manner that encourages personal growth. Additionally, many clients may find it comforting to share personal issues with a ‘stranger,’ so they can be completely honest without fear of retaliation, hurt feelings, judgment, or awkwardness.

What book are you reading, or podcast are you listening to right now?

I just finished reading It’s Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst.

Fun Fact:

If you stepped through my front door, you would immediately realize that I am a huge animal lover. At this time, I have cats and dogs, but if I can one day convince my husband, I would love to include a pygmy goat and alpaca to my pack.

 



Today’s edition introduces you to Ed Cochard. He is currently accepting new clients and sees adolescents 14+, adults, couples, and families at our office. He is in network with BCBS, Medcost, Aetna, and Tricare. 

Ed is a licensed psychological associate who has served in clinical and administrative roles while providing individual, family, couples, and group counseling in inpatient psychiatric, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and office settings. He has experience treating both mental health and substance abuse issues with a broad range of clients from adolescents to older adults. His areas of clinical focus include treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, anger management, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, and substance use disorders. Ed utilizes a blend of cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, reality therapy, and motivational interviewing in his treatment approach.

Why did you decide to become a therapist?

 I’ve always been the guy that people have turned to for support-even as a kid.  Helping people has always been natural to me and something I have enjoyed doing.  It was a natural progression for me to turn it into meaningful career.

I’ve never been to therapy. What should I expect during therapy appointments with you?  

Validation, honesty and unconditional support are central to my approach.  Everyone wants to be heard and understood-especially in times of struggle.  I also believe everyone appreciates caring honesty and a direct approach.  This helps with building a therapeutic relationship based upon trust.  My clients learn that I care and that they can trust what I say-and that I will also provide little nudges towards progress and success.  Sessions with me will also always be filled with humor, and when appropriate and necessary, laughter.  

What is different about talking to a therapist than talking to a good friend?

Support from a good friend is vital to one’s well-being and growth, and talking to a good friend(s) is always encouraged.  Adding a therapist to your social support network is helpful in order to gain someone with more of a clinical perspective with your concerns.  A therapist tends to have experience and training in a great many areas and can provide support, guidance and assistance that is not available through other social supports.

Fun Fact:

I am a huge sports fan!  I grew up outside of Philadelphia so my office is adorned with paraphernalia from Philly teams.  I am also a great lover of the beach. I spend a lot of time on the beach just soaking in the atmosphere.

 

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Ed, call our office at (910) 790-9500 or email administration@chrysaliscenter-nc.com.



Alexis Hunter is the Director of Professional Relations at Chrysalis Center. She serves in a hybrid role of overseeing all aspects of Human Resources and Marketing.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing you to some of our clinical staff. I want you to get to know our team so that when you make the first step in scheduling with a therapist, you may have an idea of who to see. Thinking of making that first step? Call our office today at (910) 790-9500 or email administration@chrysaliscenter-nc.com.

Emily Lockamy is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in grief and loss, mood disorders, and eating disorders.

Why did you decide to become a therapist?

I have always been so interested in people’s inner landscapes and relational dynamics. It’s what led me to study theater in college, where I was introduced to the field of drama therapy. Learning about how the creative arts can be used as a vehicle for healing inspired my desire to become a counselor. It’s remarkable to me how resilient humans are, and how impactful therapy can be at helping individuals unlock their potential. I feel so fortunate to be able to use my background and training to help people overcome struggles and improve the quality of their lives.

I’ve never been to therapy. What should I expect during therapy appointments with you?

You can expect to be met with warmth, acceptance, and understanding. You can expect to learn a lot about yourself and your worldview. And, you can expect to gain new ways of thinking, relating, and coping that can promote more effective functioning, more meaningful connections, and a greater sense of fulfillment.

As a person-centered counselor, I consider clients to be the “experts” on their lives. Each session I listen attentively and with empathy to their experience. I ask questions and provide insights aimed at helping my clients move through grief, identify inner conflicts, process difficult events, challenge maladaptive patterns, manage and alleviate symptoms, clarify their values, cultivate self-compassion, and develop new perceptions that better serve them. I offer coping skills, resources, and homework as needed.

I feel honored to hold space for my clients’ pain and support them in enacting positive change. I reassure new clients that there’s a reason I have a box of tissues next to the couch – it’s more than okay to cry and “fall apart” in counseling. It’s also okay to laugh (and there’s more of that in therapy than you might imagine!). In fact, allowing the experience of vulnerability by accepting and expressing emotions without judgment is an integral part of freeing oneself from suffering and distress.

What is different about talking to a therapist than talking to a good friend?

Therapy can often be mistaken for a space in which people “just talk” or “vent” about their problems, as they would with a good friend. But there are major differences between working with a counselor and talking to a good friend (something that’s healthy and important in its own right!). A counselor can offer a more objective perspective using evidence-based practices tailored to an individual’s support needs and strengths, and informed by years of education and training in counseling psychology theory and research. This means that each remark or response from a qualified counselor (whether it’s a question, reflection, or moment of silence) is intentional and grounded in a therapeutic intervention or approach that is shown to facilitate healthier coping and to guide people towards personal growth.

In addition, the therapeutic alliance is not reciprocal in the same way a friendship is. The hour you spend with a counselor is all about you, so there’s no need to feel like you’re over-sharing or “burdening” someone with your concerns. Therapy’s also not “effortless” (the way some friendships can feel). It’s a process that takes work, patience, practice, and commitment. And like most pursuits in life, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get back.

What book are you reading, or podcast are you listening to right now?

In addition to reading clinical literature that keeps me engaged and up to date in my field, I love reading literary fiction and am always in the midst of a novel. I just finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and am about to start Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao. My three favorite novels that I’ve read this year are: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee. To me, reading adds so much depth and richness to life and I love sharing book recommendations with clients who also enjoy reading and use it as a coping mechanism.

Fun Fact about Emily…

Emily is a proud mom to two little boys and spends most of her time outside of work at the park, playground, and soccer field.



Today’s blog is written by Alex Hussey, a dietetic intern who is completing her degree at East Carolina University. Alex shadowed individual sessions and helped to facilitate IOP meal and nutrition groups while at Chrysalis. 

Courtesy Lumina News

You’ve seen the advertisements everywhere. “How to Get A Beach Body By Summer”, and every other cover title along that line on magazines everywhere. But getting a beach body can be a lot easier than these magazines make it out to be. I’ll list the steps right now in this diagram:

Here’s where things can get tricky…

Do you love your body? Are you accepting of it? Are able to understand and respect the needs of your body?

Instead, the magazines should print, “How to Love Your Body at the Beach, Mountains, School, Work, or In Literally Any Location”

Courtesy Rueters

These steps are a little bit harder than the ones previously listed. It’s more prevalent for women to dislike their bodies than it is for them to like them. We often compare our bodies to unrealistic expectations. This is a growing problem with constant social media access and exposure to “Instagram Influencers”. The majority of the influencers are using photo editing software to enhance their appearance and we are only exposed to the final product when they post. While these influencers still possess their own beauty, we have to learn to accept the beauty of others without questioning our own.

 

 

What Can We Do?

We should talk to ourselves the way we would talk to a good friend; always encouraging her, being accepting of her flaws and acknowledging her accomplishments. We can eat well and often, eat a balanced, healthy diet and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. We can find joy in movement. Just enjoy a stroll in the sun because it’s scientifically proven to improve your mood. Stay positive, when you start feeling the “doom and gloom” feeling, make a list of everything you are grateful for. Use positive affirmations for even little things. When we are taking care of ourselves and responding to our needs, we will see the positive outcomes in various forms, your skin might be glowing, your smile might be bigger, you might be more outgoing. Whatever it is, when you are able to accept your body for all the wonderful things it is and does, we become happier.

After all, the best body we can get (at the beach or not), is one we love.



For as long as I can remember, my life has been directed by two things: My weight and food. I always wanted to be thin because in my mind thinness was equal to acceptance. As a little girl, I constantly compared myself to my friends. I was never the “skinniest” and I hated that. At age 11, I went on my first diet with my mother. I lost weight very quickly, and people took notice. The compliments were addictive…” Wow, Sarah you look so good” ….” Someone is losing their baby fat” ….” Sarah is really coming into her own” … I was hooked. I’d never felt such confirmation. And so, I started my new life as a “dieter.” I tried all the fad diets and my weight yo-yoed for years. My relationship with food was horrible. My relationship with the scale was even worse.

By my fifteenth birthday all thoughts and actions revolved around food. The servings on my plate were tiny and I would run for miles a day to burn off what little calories I consumed. I was officially out of control. My clothes hung off me, my periods stopped completely; I looked skeletal. My mother took me to my pediatrician for my yearly exam and he exclaimed “if you continue like this you are going to die. “He urged my mother to seek professional help for me immediately.  I agreed to go to treatment and my mother set an appointment with my very first therapist.

She was sweet, but not very knowledgeable about eating disorders. She did not ask me to meet with a nutritionist. Instead, she and my parents developed a plan to fill the home with candy, cakes, chips, anything I used to eat that was full of calories and unfortunately lacking nutrients. I wanted to succeed in treatment. I have always been a people-pleaser and wanted to make my parents proud. I ate what was asked of me and more. I carried around a book bag full of chips, snack cakes and chocolate. This is how I learned to binge. I would eat all day. Many times, to a point of extreme discomfort. My parents were elated. My therapist praised me for my efforts. It was not long after my weight restored that I was considered “recovered”. My weight was back to normal, so all was well, right? My therapist and parents agreed I was “cured” and no longer in need of treatment….so I stopped going….

….and I continued to binge. I learned it could be just as mind-numbing as restriction. My weight climbed to a point that was unhealthy for me. I felt totally out of control. My eating disorder told me I could take it back by purging. This took various forms: either by restriction, over-exercise or making myself throw up. For years and years, I found myself in a binge/restriction cycle. Over time I assumed it was normal; and because I did not look emaciated my behaviors went unquestioned. This is how I lived for most of my life. I was detached and isolated. As far as I was concerned, this was good enough.

Time went by and I lived my life, but I was bound by the rules set by my eating disorder.  A few years after I got married my husband and I decided we wanted to try to have a baby. I had a very difficult time getting pregnant. At the time I could not see the correlation between my weight and infertility. I assumed I was unable to get pregnant without medical intervention. I started fertility meds and eventually got pregnant. At first, I thought I would be fine, that my maternal instincts would over-come my disorder. Certainly, I would be fine with the weight gain for the sake of my baby, I thought.

How wrong I was.

I found myself in a very dangerous place after I conceived. I lost weight my first trimester due to morning sickness and something inside me snapped. Terrified of weight gain, I became very restrictive. I could not eat what I needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Around my third month of pregnancy I realized what a bad situation I was in. I spoke to my doctor about the severity of my situation. She told me about a program in Wilmington that specifically treated eating disorders. She referred me to Chrysalis, thank God.

I started to see a therapist and nutritionist regularly. I was amazed at the difference in this treatment episode! They were so knowledgeable and capable! For the first time in my life, I felt understood, I felt hope.

I would love to say that I was immediately healed and gained the weight recommended for a healthy pregnancy, but anorexia is a very powerful disease. I was still underweight when I gave birth. I was anemic throughout my pregnancy and was very thin. Thankfully, I carried my son to term and he was born at a healthy weight. We were very lucky.

When my son was born I was determined to breastfeed which made meeting my treatment goals very difficult.  Over-whelmed with caring for a newborn, I clung to my disorder for comfort. After months of this with no improvement I realized I may need a higher level of care. I spoke to my nutritionist about inpatient…but after we spoke I realized going away would mean being away from my precious baby for months. I would miss his first words, his first steps. But then I had a thought that turned out to be the reality check I needed: I was going to miss out on all those things and so much more if I didn’t step it up in treatment.

 

So, I did the work. I pushed myself even when I thought I had nothing to give. Little by little I started making progress. I learned to cope with my disorder. I gained tools, faced my fears, and rediscovered who I am without anorexia. One day my nutritionist told me about a film called “Embrace.” It taught me about appreciating my body for what it can do rather than what it looks like. I never thought about it that way. I’d always seen my body as purely ornamental. I can now appreciate and love my body for its capabilities! For the first time in my life I am living!  I am eternally grateful to my counselor, my nutritionist, and the Chrysalis Center. They played a monumental part in helping me get my life back. In the past two years I have started to learn to love myself unconditionally. There are no words to express the value in that. I will continue to push myself and work toward a life that is free from my disorder because it is worth it! I am worth it!

 



Today’s story comes from a man who wants to take an opportunity to share his journey regarding how his obsession with nutrition became one of his life’s struggles and how he was able to overcome the issues that developed.

Growing up as a kid, athletic performance was at the very top of my life’s priority list.  I was taught that dedication and extreme discipline would allow me to separate myself from my peers and help me reach greater goals.  These principles proved to be true as I saw success in high school and college athletics.  After college, I no longer had competitive basketball to fulfill my drive, so I turned to a focus on working out and weight lifting.  I had always lifted weights but now I was doing it for different reason.  Previously, the motivation was performance based, but now there was more of an aesthetic motivation.  I implemented my dedicated and disciplined characteristics into this endeavor and found that nutrition played a huge role in helping to meet my goals.  Soon enough, the “health” component would prove to be the unhealthiest aspect of this hobby.  I became obsessed with every calorie and I wouldn’t let myself deviate, even the slightest bit.  Additionally, my friends and family came to admire this level of discipline, adding pressure to my situation.  I felt like I had a reputation to uphold as everyone was looking to me for nutrition and advice on health.  As this situation progressed, an important observation should be noted – my performance, mood, and energy all began to suffer, creating even more of a toxic situation.  Eventually, I caved.  One Sunday afternoon, I ate more calories in 6 hours than I typically would in 3 days.  The psychological effects from this binge were the worst part.  This continued on and off for a little less than a year.  During that time, food began to take over the majority of my thoughts and I felt imprisoned – it was awful.  I was constantly in a state where I was either trying to undo the damage from a binge by frantically working out for hours, or I was in continuous thought about how I would prevent the next binge.  In due course, I sought professional help and learned how to prevent these binges, but more importantly I learned how to relieve my mind from obsessing about food.

I spared a lot of details, but I wanted to share this quick story for a few different reasons.  I think it’s important that people realize that eating disorders can affect people of all different shapes and sizes.  I was doing my worst, when I was physically looking my best.  I was striving for “perfection” while I should’ve been striving for balance.  Since altering my mindset, I have been much happier and healthier physically and mentally.  Also, I can’t stress enough, the importance of seeking help.  Understanding the how and why wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of someone who had professional experience in this space.   I encourage anyone who is struggling to seek guidance – every problem has a solution!



Our story today comes from a woman who shows us that recovery is a journey that IS possible. Are you ready to start your journey to recovery

 

NEDA week has finally arrived, and this year, the initiative is “Come As You Are.”  When I take a closer look at the theme, my focus is drawn to the action word that begins the phrase, “come.”  To me, recovery is largely about action.  A wise therapist once told me that to get different results, you have to do different things…aka make changes.  Easier said than done when most people, including myself, would rather spend decades deciphering ancient hieroglyphics than change.  So, why do it?  What’s the point of recovery?  And really, what is this fabled recovery?

 

To understand what recovery truly is, I believe that we have to take a serious inventory.  Don’t worry, you will not be subject to any management accounting quizzes.  By inventory, I mean more of a self-analysis.  A lot of people share what recovery is like for them, discussing what they have endured and how life is better for them now, after achieving recovery.  But I have trouble translating others’ stories in to something tangible for me.  Their experience is theirs, my life is mine.

 

This is where the inventory comes in handy.  Recovery is meaningless unless it applies to you, so make it applicable to you.  Honestly analyze all aspects of your day, your life, your health and your physical/emotional/mental well-being.  Caution: self-analysis takes work, and time (therapy is critical here)…but again, we can’t make worthwhile changes unless we have an accurate understanding of what we have, and what we need.

 

Once you have a clear inventory, aka a snapshot of your current status, you can be really truthful with yourself.  Think: is this what I want for myself?  Am I happy?  Do I feel good?  How do I relate to people around me?  Are there limits I need to enact anywhere?   Am I setting myself up for meaningful connection with others, and myself?  Only you can answer these, and many other questions.  The answers then become the bedrock for your recovery and your why.

 

Your “why” is your motivation, your reason(s) for making adjustments.  And it’s OK if your why morphs over time.  It’s yours…it can be whatever you want.  But make sure it’s something that you can cling to during challenges.  This is the logic behind taking action, making change, coming as you are…you aren’t going to do it unless you have a strong reason why and an understanding of what needs to be done.

 

Turning away from an eating disorder is slow, grueling work.  Day after day, hour after hour, decisions must be made that either align with your why, or not.  Recovery for me is an in-the-trenches process where I force myself to choose the path that’s parallel with my why, NOT the eating disorder.  I have to be gritty and stubborn and remain focused on the foundation of my new actions.  It helps to ask for help, to be surrounded by support and reminded that I’m not alone, because I’m not.  The first step, along with every subsequent step, has to start with you.  You have to come as you are, and you definitely can.  Choose life, I promise that it’s worth it.

 

 



Today we share the second client story in the series for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week where we are asked to “Come As You Are” to share stories about all types of eating disorders. 

Three stays and three diagnoses later (anorexia, EDNOS, and bulimia) and I am here to tell the tale. Why? I am not sure, but by the grace of God. It has been a long battle. One that still isn’t over. But as I am now, I can promise it gets better with time, distance, and healing.

 

I don’t really know where to begin. I guess the beginning would make sense but that goes way back. To paint a clear picture I’ll start in middle school. The other kids are outside at recess. I am stuck in the classroom pushing food around which I dare not eat. You see, the teachers and my parents have already had the conversation. The one that says “your daughter isn’t eating.” I’m in the middle of a long, serious, battle with anorexia. At the time I would not confess nor admit it to myself and certainly not to anyone else. This battle continues for years on end. Fast forward. I am 18-yrs-old. I walk through the doors at Chrysalis, terrified. There I am officially diagnosed. Fast forward again. I just graduated college at age 22. Time for a long seven-month inpatient stay at a treatment center. Tubes come and go, and finally I am released. Mentally still really struggling but physically going through the motions of being okay. It doesn’t last though. I ship off again. This time to a place called Castlewood for six months, but who is counting? Again, I go through the motions. Even begin to heal. Again, I become sick. I go back. Third time’s the charm? I hope so.

Now, I walk through the doors at Chrysalis, but not because I am starving, purging, working out to the point of exhaustion, or using a multitude of other negative coping strategies. I walk through the doors not because all I can think about is food and calories; I walk through those doors because I want life rather than mere existence. I want to be the best version of myself possible. I want to be a better woman than I was yesterday. And, I want to understand yesterday’s pain more deeply. I walk through those doors not because I am isolated and all alone. I walk in because I have so many dear friends who are in the battle, too. So many beautiful souls, who like me, do not deserve the cards they have been dealt.

Life isn’t fair or easy. But I am glad I have life. Now, on the bad days I skip meals and fight with my wardrobe. On the good days, I am truly learning to love myself inside and out. I am still waiting for the body image piece to get better. I believe it will. Everything else has. I am no longer anxious every time I sit down to eat. I no longer just go through the motions. Hell, sometimes I even enjoy food. I smile and mean it. I use my voice over my actions to tell people when I am not okay. And I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. And so, I come through those doors as I am. Not as I was. Nothing more, nothing less than I am here and now. That’s all I can do. I invite you to do the same.



Chrysalis Center is proud to participate in National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week again this year. Every year, the last week of February, NEDA strives to create awareness about all forms of eating disorders in an effort to promote healing, provide resources and education, and to help the general public become more aware of the spectrum of eating disorders so those suffering from the disease can find a path to full recovery.  

This year’s theme is “Come As You Are”. NEDA wants all those who have or had an eating disorder to have a voice and share stories, so we are happy to provide a platform for people to do that. This week – we will share stories written by clients who want to help others. Just like eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, so will our stories. Do you have a story to share? Has your journey just begun? If you need help along the way, please contact our office and we’ll be happy to help you find your path to recovery.

MY ED STORY

Journey is often described as an act of traveling from one place to another.  What you are about to read is my personal journey of overcoming my eating disorder.  I remember the first time I sat down with a professional, I told them that I didn’t have an eating disorder but that sometimes I stress eat.  That statement is so far from what I know now to be true.  I was at a point in my life where binge eating had consumed my emotions; my every thought; and, controlled most of my decisions.  What was I going to have at this meal?  Would I have enough food to last me through the work day?  I’m stressed, so I “need” to eat this to help me calm down.  These never ending thoughts held me captive for so long, and I didn’t even realize it at that point in time.  I had tried all the “diets” and exercise programs to help me become a healthier version of myself.  All it led me to was more binge eating, more shame and guilt, and a lower sense of self worth.

When I started seeking help, I was numb emotionally, but open minded and motivated to change.  Meeting with the registered dietitian completely changed my life, and I am so grateful for it.  Lesson 1: add a grain to my meal.  Lesson 2: add a vegetable or fruit to my meal.  I thought, “alright, how hard can that be?”  Slowly, but surely each lesson I learned created a foundation that is now my plan for living and eating mindfully each meal of the day.   Upon each lesson, I was able to gain confidence and control with what I was eating.

When I started, I would think, “well I’m not giving up this or I’m not giving up that” and the dietitian would say, “I’m not asking you to, I just want to try this or this.”  This mindset was life changing for me because it took away the “all or nothing” and “black or white” principles I had been living within my whole life.  Over time, I was able to shift my mindset to become more forgiving when I ate something that didn’t make my body feel as good, feel less guilty about enjoying a brownie or cookie for a friend’s birthday, and live an overall healthier lifestyle in which my body felt good and enabled me to do more things physically.

I remember one morning recently eating a fast food breakfast biscuit while I was on the road. While I didn’t have any guilt or shame, I found that I missed the fruits and grains that were in my day-to-day routine and that I actually preferred these newfound foods that didn’t exist within my day-to-day prior to overcoming my eating disorder.  Throughout my sessions, my dietitian also assisted me with figuring out that tomato based sauce was contributing to my IBS.  So we tried switching me to white sauce pizza which made a huge impact on decreasing my IBS symptoms, and the amount I have to take my medication for these symptoms decreased significantly.  I also found that this mindfulness and flexibility from within my food choices started flowing over into other areas of my life, so I began enjoying exercise, because I did it my way by taking classes that were my style rather than following what society told me I had to do or should be doing.   It also led me to feel my emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant) when I had been masking them for so long by eating them away.  The ability to actually feel, process, and manage my emotions more effectively allowed me to grow into and become my true self within my personal life.

I am now recovered from my eating disorder, but I am still involved with counseling and nutrition guidance so that I can maintain living my healthiest mind, body, and soul.  The journey can be long, rocky, trying, confusing, and overwhelming, but what I can say is that when you stick with it and find your peace, it is so freeing.  You gain a clarity that is beyond what you would ever imagine.



This guest blog is written by a client who wishes to share her thoughts…

Sometimes I have to ask, “Is there something in our water?” Something that makes it okay to comment on someone else’s body? Something that affirms that “beauty is only skin deep”?

I have been pondering these ideas after a recent interaction I had on a dating site, using the dating site account profile that I set up years ago. I recently got back on the site and had not yet updated my profile. (It is now up to date: the “sick” me is not one I want to flaunt. Not only is it not a realistic representation of what I look like anymore, it also brings up old memories. Memories better left in the past.)

While updating my profile I was struck by how few recent photos of myself are included in my photo albums. Why is this? The shame of my new body. I avoid the camera at all costs. Not because I am so worried about other people who are obviously drinking tainted water, but because I am only human and I must confess: I drink water, too. I am filled with embarrassment every time I see my reflection. It just doesn’t fit what I am feeling on the inside or what I have been through in the past.

That’s the key point here: it was in the past. My past not my present. A lot has changed since then. Not just my body. Being in recovery has changed my body of course but it has also changed my life. And while I struggle with body image daily I would not return to my past for a chance to be in my “sick” body.

Sure, on days like today it seems extremely tempting to return to old patterns. I found this out all too quickly as I casually skipped breakfast this morning. The thing is – it was not casual or unimportant. It was intentional. A direct choice influenced strongly by another.

Which brings me back full circle to the dating site and profile I mentioned earlier. So, I was talking to this man, right? As people often do on dating sites. One thing led to another and we set up a time to meet. Before the conversation ended, he asked to see more photos. I agreed and shared my personal Instagram username.

After several minutes he returned to the conversation. He commented to me on “how drastic a change your body appears to have been through.” He continued, “you’ve gained a lot of weight.” My heart sank. And he is right: my body is no longer the same body I had then.

My body is now one filled with life and not just an empty shell that I wear.

Rest assured, the date is off. But today I have to pick up the pieces left behind by that conversation. Today I have to be strong. Today I have to make the choice for recovery, which is more challenging than it was yesterday. Today I remind myself that he is only human. That though what he said hurt me, I will not let it throw me back down the rabbit hole I once lived in. Today I hold both: the fact that what he said was true and that what he said was extremely wrong and inappropriate.

I hold hope today. Hope that he learns to think before he speaks. Hope that he does not so badly offend someone else. And mostly, I hold hope for myself. That I can learn to accept my body as my own and embrace it. That I can stand tall and proud of the person I have become. Because truly, I am the only person who knows the depth of what I have been through. I did not share with him that I am in recovery from a severe eating disorder. Nor did I share how hurt I was and am by his words.

Let me leave you with these two things: Have hope, it honestly gets better. And, think twice before you drink our society’s tainted water.


About Us

At Chrysalis, we believe that a supportive, healing environment is essential in order for change and growth to occur. We seek to offer such an environment to clients and help them create that in their lives and relationships. Read More

Hours

Mon: 8AM – 6PM
Tue: 8AM – 6PM
Wed: 8AM – 6PM
Thu: 8AM – 6PM
Fri: 8AM – 4PM
Sat: CLOSED
Sun: CLOSED

© 2019 Chrysalis Center | Design Interventions