Motherless on Mother’s Day

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, May 13, 2017

For some, Mother’s Day is a joyful time. For other’s, it can be quite painful. For those of you who fall into the latter category, this blog post is for you. With honesty and bravery, one of my client’s shares her story as well as 6 tips for getting through the weekend. I know you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did. Big thank you to the author for allowing me to share this on my site.

Question: What are ways that you take care of yourself during difficult times?

Here’s the blog. Enjoy.

 On the Friday that I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, my mother had her first seizure. That weekend she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the following Monday she had brain surgery, and that night we were told that her cancer was terminal.

As my mother’s illness progressed, so did mine. As she grew sicker, I grew more symptomatic; my eating disorder became a protective factor against my mother’s illness. If I was focused on destroying myself, I was less vulnerable to the feelings evoked by watching the cancer destroy my mother and my best friend. I was wracked with guilt for “making” myself sick when my mother was fighting a real illness; years later, I have come to a less black and white way of thinking about this. I wasn’t making myself sick; I had an illness that I couldn’t control and that I didn’t choose. In a lot of ways, my illness served a purpose; to numb feelings, to distract from my mother’s pain, to battle feelings of guilt and shame, and to quiet the voice in my mind telling me that I was not enough. In some ways, I felt that I should be the one to die and not my mom.

This summer, it will be fifteen years since my mother’s death. The pain has changed but it has not gone away. The pain of losing one’s mother never does. There are times that it comes upon me in waves; holidays, the anniversary of her death, the birth of my own son, other instances of grief and loss, and, of course, Mother’s Day.

Scrolling though my Facebook feed over the past couple of days, I have seen many, many posts on Mother’s Day. NEDA has had a few of their own, asking how people’s mothers have been helpful in their recovery. These posts always cause a pang inside of me. Thoughts of “I wish I had a mother”, “I wish my mother had been there to help me through recovery”, and “It’s not fair that my mother is gone” spiral through my mind. I know there must be others out there dealing with the pain and loss that is triggered on this special day, and I wanted to post some ways that I have used in the past and will use this year in order to cope while motherless on Mother’s Day.

  1. Step Away from Social Media
    This year, on Mother’s Day, I will delete my Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone and will not log in through the Internet. For me, this is a self-care decision. My feed is bound to be full of pictures of people with their mothers, of tributes to amazing moms, and of people feeling blessed and lucky to have their mothers in their lives. I honestly don’t begrudge people who are lucky enough to have their mothers with them, and I think it’s beautiful that there are tributes on social media. However, I do not need to see them on a day that is already quite painful. It only serves to bring to light my own issues of grief and loss.

  2. Do Something to Honor Your Mom
    This will look different for everyone. For me, it’s often been taking day trips to places my mother loved. It has also been looking through the photo album I put together after she died, writing her a letter, and visiting her grave. Perhaps you could do something that the two of you liked to do together; shopping, visiting a garden, taking a walk, or going to a coffee shop. The important thing is that you are honoring her memory by doing something that she loved, and taking care of yourself by cherishing the happy moments you had with your mom.

  3. Nourish Yourself
    It might be tempting to restrict on Mother’s Day. It always is for me. Sometimes, the emotions dampen my appetite; other times, I want to restrict to numb those very emotions. It is important to follow your meal plan or to eat intuitively on Mother’s Day in order to heal both your body and your mind. Even though it might feel right in the moment, restricting or otherwise engaging in eating disordered behavior will only make you feel worse in the long run. Take care of yourself the way your mother would have taken care of you. Pretend you are a child dealing with something difficult; you would want to nourish that child with food that will give them the physical and emotional energy to get through a difficult day.

  4. Have Self-Compassion
    For me, reading authors such as Pema Chodon, Tara Brach, and Kristen Neff has been very healing and helpful in developing self-love and compassion. I am currently reading Kristen Neff’s “Self Compassion” and would recommend it to everyone struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or anxiety, as well as anyone who experiences negative self-talk. Neff recommends that in moments of suffering, one can repeat a mantra: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I show myself kindness in this moment? I am deserving of self-compassion.” Sometimes, when I feel sad, I turn that sadness into other emotions; guilt, self-hate, anger, insecurity. This Mother’s Day, I plan to talk to myself as I would a young child who I care about very much. “Honey, you’re feeling sad. It’s okay to feel sad. You have a sad situation; your mother passed away, and it’s a day to celebrate mothers, and you feel lost and alone. However, you are not alone. There are people around you who love and care about you very much. It’s okay to feel sad. This is sad.”

  5. Reach Out
    I am lucky enough to have an amazing treatment team who provided extra support this week, through appointments, notes in my journal, voicemail messages, and even an extra appointment on Mother’s Day. I know that this is not possible in every situation, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for support in whatever form you find most helpful. You can also reach out to trusted family or friends. Ask for what you need.

  6. Celebrate Yourself
    If you are a mom yourself, remember that this is your day, too! It is not only a day of remembrance and perhaps grief, but also a day of celebration for all you do as a mom. I am a single mom of a young child, so it really is up to me to plan my own celebration! This year, my son and I will be going out to lunch and picking out a bouquet of flowers to brighten up my bedroom. I also hired a babysitter so I could take a few hours to myself, to get a pedicure or go to the bookstore to read. Find something you love to do and go out and do it! Today is not just about your loss; it’s also about celebrating all you have done to be a great mom to your children.

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many, especially those who have lost a mother. It is important that, on this day, we do our very best to take care of ourselves. Treat yourself like you would your five year-old self; with nurturance, compassion, and love.

Amy's Journey- A Guest Blog Post About Recovery

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Thursday, September 01, 2016

Many of you will identify with some of what Amy has to share about her journey to making peace with food and her body. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. I know I did!

I'm a pretty impatient person. I don't really understand people who enjoy the journey... I just want to get to the destination. I just want to be THERE ... that illusive place where satisfaction and contentment live. I've learned that is part of my nature and I'm best served to learn how to work within it and manage it, and stop fighting it.

When I started working with Sarah @ MarciRD, I had that same mindset. I wanted my struggle with food to end – like after a visit or two. :) I wanted to be fixed, healed, whatever – I just wanted to be done with 30 years of battling with food. Imagine my surprise when 2 years later, I am still walking through that door to a neat little office in Cambridge to talk with Sarah.

My first ever visit I was introduced to Intuitive Eating and what it meant to let go of the diet mentality. Of what it meant to give myself permission to eat anything I wanted (at this point I felt scared to death and giddy at the same time!). What do you mean I can eat what I want? What kind of diet it this? Where are the rules, the restrictions? Oh so thankfully, they are out the door with IE. I have found peace with marshmallow fluff. Oreos no longer hold power over me!! I learned to sit, eat, and enjoy food. To really taste food – and use all my senses at a meal. To slow down. And to listen to my body, and trust that it would tell me when I was full. All of this is the complete opposite of what the diet industry tells us – that we need "them", their plan, and their regiment and without it we'll never do it, or we'll fail. It's a lie! There is piece inside of us that knows what we need. We just have to be quiet and listen for that voice to come out! And really, we have to be willing to take the journey ... ugh. And do the work. Bigger ugh.

I have shed a lot of tears in Sarah's office, doing the work. I have laughed, gotten frustrated with myself, fallen back into old habits, been angry with myself and so much more, more times that I can count. Eventually, I listened. I learned. I changed the way I talked to myself. I started paying attention to how different foods made me feel after I ate them. I dug in and figured out why I had struggled for so many years in the yo-yo diet world ... why I binged on certain foods. I forgave the little girl who started sneaking food when she was only 10, and the mom who put her on a diet at that same age. It makes a lot more sense now. I started living true to my nature and honoring the woman I am today. I began being grateful for my fat! Imagine? Because for all the things I went through as a little girl into my teen years, all I got was fat... and it could have been so much worse. I stopped fighting against my fat and started being grateful for all that I am and all I have learned along the way. Aye yiyi ... I started enjoying the journey.

I want to leave you with a paragraph from one of my favorite books, Imagine Heaven by John Burke. What if you saw yourself in a way that was loving, full of grace and full of forgiveness?

"Knowing how God sees you, sets you free to accomplish the things that God created you to accomplish. It sets you free to use your unique gifts, time and resources to make an impact that lasts for eternity – not to prove that you're worth something, but because you're worth EVERYTHING to God. "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this, it is a gift from God... For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10".

 

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 & Sarah Patten

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sarah Patten is a passionate eating disorder specialist who works with me in my practice. She is going to close out National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 by sharing with each of you "The One Thing She Wishes People Knew About Eating Disorders." Take it away Sarah!

Picture Source

Typically, when a person finds out that I'm a dietitian, I'm instantly assaulted with a barrage of questions regarding nutrition, the latest diet fads or super foods, and what my job actually entails day to day. When they learn that I don't endorse diets, food fads, or even promote weight loss and instead work with those struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating, the questions continue - but take on a different tone of curiosity and misunderstanding.

It never ceases to amaze me that eating disorders, which effect roughly 30 million Americans and have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, remain so mysterious to the general population. There is so much information that I wish I could convey to the world about eating disorders. So much insight and understanding that might foster greater compassion for those struggling and perhaps even increase the minimal research funding allotted to fighting this serious condition. My mind overflows with misconceptions I could correct or statistics I could offer to help educate, but when asked to consider the ONE thing that I wish people knew about eating disorders, the answer is simple:

A PERSON'S BODY SIZE IS NOT AN ACCURATE REFLECTION OF WHETHER THEY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER OR NOT!!!

Eating disorders are not limited to society's perception of the anorectic body type – but instead are rampant in people of all shapes and sizes. And although weight loss and a malnourished appearance can definitely be a serious indicator of an eating disorder, weight is by no means the only measure of the extent to which a person is suffering. For those struggling with an eating disorder, the reinforcement of this narrow belief contributes to feelings of “not being sick enough/thin enough/starved enough” or beliefs that “I don't have an eating disorder if I'm not “underweight” or emaciated.”

How can this knowledge help us? For starters, it can help us to be aware that we simply can't make assumptions about a person's relationship with food based on their body size. With this knowledge, we can work towards changing the way we might comment on another person's body, whether to their face or behind their back. Be mindful that your seemingly innocent comment on a coworker's weight loss may actually be interpreted very differently than you intended. Let's compliment other's on their strengths, praise their contributions, and appreciate their personality rather than focus on what their body looks like.

For those struggling with an eating disorder, hopefully this message will help you to challenge that internal critic telling you that you're not “sick enough” or “worthy of help or support” because of what your body looks like or what the scale says. Your weight in no way reflects your worth and certainly doesn't dictate your need for support. Healing from an eating disorder means learning to love, accept, and most importantly CARE for yourself no matter what your body looks like – you're worth it.

#5- Recovery is Possible

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Friday, February 26, 2016

A client in recovery wishes you knew:

I never really believed in the concept of recovery. And while I’m not fully recovered, I’m so much further along than I ever dreamed possible. And while it’s been tough, my life is so much better without the clutches of my ED. I’m starting to believe that full recovery is possible. But if that scares you, hold on to the idea of getting “just a little bit better.”

Julie Duffy Dillon wishes you knew:

Recovery is possible for you. No matter how long you've been in throws of ED, no matter how tough it gets, no matter how dark it is, I believe in your recovery. I believe eating disorder behaviors deprive the brain of the nourishment it needs to feel hope and blocks the path to recovery. My job, as your dietitian, is to let you know I have plenty of hope for your recovery in my noggin. Your team believes this too and we will patiently walk beside you as you find your secure footing to recovery.

Julie Duffy Dillon  MS, RD, NCC, LDN, CEDRD

 

http://www.juliedillonrd.com/

Registered Dietitian, Speaker, Writer
Eating Disorder Specialist
Owner, BirdHouse Nutrition Therapy
Nourishing the hope to heal (TM)

 

 

#4- Societal & Cultural Norms Fuel the Fire

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Thursday, February 25, 2016

A client in recovery wishes you knew:

There are so many things that I wish people knew about EDs - and primarily because people don’t talk about them as much as they should given their prevalence and our society’s warped perspective on women’s bodies. No one who has an eating disorder wants it; they affect people of all ages and genders and backgrounds and races and cultures and - anyone; saying “just eat more” isn’t going to do anyone any good; it’s more important to listen to someone who has an ED often more often than talking to them. The list goes on and on. What’s important is to know that there is so much to learn about and to stay open to and to gather support for, because the more you know and the more they know, the better off you all will be.

Emily Fonnesbeck wishes you knew:

That they aren’t glamorous, although it’s easy to assume in a culture of clean eating, fitspiration,filters and photoshopping. When our bodies are our primary focus, we can miss emotional distress that can lead to mental illness. That isn’t anything to take lightly; eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. While the causes and triggers for eating disorders are multiple and varied, they often start as innocently as trying a diet (yes even so-called “healthy diets”; a true oxymoron). I wish people realized the possible triggering that can result from viewing or listening to YOUR before/after pictures, gym selfies and dieting tips. If you are the one triggered, get rid of it. Be careful about the type of media messages you let into your mind, heart and soul. While it may not be culturally acceptable, please know that you absolutely, positively get to say NO.

It seems that in terms of health and fitness, a common belief is that strength and self-improvement comes from eating a certain way, sticking to a diet or pushing through the pain in exercise. I don’t believe it. I feel true strength and self-improvement comes from being true to yourself and respecting yourself enough to avoid the demoralizing world of weight, body shape and diet obsession. Anyone can (and deserves to) find peace with food, their body and themselves.

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD

emilyfonnesbeck.com

https://www.facebook.com/EmilyFonnesbeckRD

http://pinterest.com/emilyfonnesbeck

http://instagram.com/emilyfonnesbeck_rd

https://twitter.com/emilyfonnesbeck

Helping you make peace with food to end disordered eating.