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Little Girls Don’t Stay Little Forever

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The moment you are born society gives you a list of things you cannot do, and you must be because you are dainty, breakable, and not strong enough to flee.

When society says you have to be thin and beautiful to fit in, I want you to know that beauty comes from within, and you will always be the most precious baby girl to me.

”Boys will be Boys” you will hear society say, don’t let them take your self-confidence away. Your body is your temple and unique just for you, stand tall and proud of everything it can do.

I want you to know that you can be anything you set your mind to; an astronaut, an athlete, a doctor, or even the President if you wish to be because…

Little Girls Don’t Stay Little Forever

I want you to know that when you reach for the stars and lightning strikes you down the thunder will roar, and the sky will be yours because…

Little Girls Don’t Stay Little Forever

Your voice never silenced, you will always have me because I was once a little girl society tried to bring to her knees, but…

Little Girls Don’t Stay Little Forever

And when fear and doubt take your hands, your partner in crime I will always be to face any evil or hurt that comes your way because…

I was once a little girl who threw society’s rules away.

 

Breaking Free From ED

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Fear invited you into my life the day my childhood was taken. How could I know at the age of five it was a lifetime commitment because you invaded my mind?

Your love so strong, your grip so tight, you were breathing for me as you blinded my sight. My fate now cinched because you kept me free from the dangers around me that brought me to my knees.

You whispered don’t speak and never to stray because I would not survive if you did not stay.

You took my voice and gave me yours, my life no longer mine because we are now conjoined. Together we will be till death do us part, our vows now sealed since you broke my heart.

My world on fire, I can see from afar, spiraling like a tornado that hit me so hard. Hiding and manipulation became my only goal. My motto, my song, was known to all. 

I already ate

I did not purge

I have not fainted

I have not lost weight

An abusive relationship I never saw, you brainwashed my mind when you stole my soul. My body weak, my blood pressure low, my heart barely beating, and I had no control. My life never mine, and I asked you to go, you shook me violently, telling me “NO.”

You said you would let up if I lost more weight and as I disappeared your power dominated. You brought me to death’s door so many times and asked for forgiveness as I was losing my mind. My thoughts no longer clear I had to believe you had my best interest, so I was ready to please.

My team my lifeline rolled in like thunder striking you down as I was going under. Their wisdom and guidance sent me a rope bringing me back up and giving me hope.

I no longer trust the words that you say because I have no doubt you will take me away. The battles with you continue to show, but I have come to see that you never wanted to set me free. You warned me of danger; a reality unseen, your power once crippling, is slowly coming back to me.

The time has come for us to part ways; I want to survive without you by my side. You no longer control me, as much as you try, as I continue to trip, stumble, and fall; I will crawl until I can fly.

As you sit on my shoulder begging to come in, I whisper these words “I am the storm that put out the fire, and as I send you to hell, I need you to hear, I am stronger than you as I watch you disappear.”

Sincerely,

Kelly Rossi

An Open Letter to Fear: A Pledge to Self

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Fear is like a deer in headlights because it stops one in their tracks, not allowing your legs to move forward or backward, just stuck, frozen in time. It leaves you with self-doubt, low self-esteem, no self-confidence, and the doom of failure is like a black cloud hanging just far enough above your head so that you cannot reach it; perpetually waiting for the lightning to strike. It paralyzes one to the point of self-destruction. All the dreams and hopes of what you thought your life would look like vanishes because you are already dead inside. You lose sight of who you are because fear traps your mind into believing you are not worthy or deserving of happiness and success.

I cannot even begin to count how many times I have succumbed to you, how many projects are left undone, how many times I betrayed my body, and how many nights I have stayed up in sheer panic because you made me believe that I would fail. You have left me in turmoil because I thought I was not worthy to be a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, or friend, and I pushed the most precious and loving people out of my life.

You have made me build a concrete wall around myself, brick by brick, so the people who can help me the most cannot get in, and I cannot get out. And, because of you, I have an all or nothing thinking, and perfectionism controls my every being. I always have to prove you will not beat me, so I have to be the best at governing my body, having the highest GPA, and the champion in encapsulating myself into a cocoon to conceal my past; my true identity. However, what I have come to realize is that you have made me sink deeper into a hole, hanging over cliffs, and wishing I would not wake up again because I could not face another day with you in my life.

You, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and perfectionism became a great team, and have left me isolated in my mind, not looking forward to the possibilities of what life would be like if you were not in it. As soon as I see the light, you grab hold of me, and whisper in my ear “You cannot go out there because you are a failure, cannot be loved or liked, and you are too stupid to reach your goals.” You convinced me that without you I could not survive, and you took my voice and silenced me as soon as I felt the need to speak.
I have lived my life according to your every demand. Always forgetting about my aspirations; not learning who I am or what I could grow to become. You have become my only instinct; inflicting pain for most of my life. Today, I will find my voice, climb out of the darkness, step high on the mountain, break down the wall, and break free from the cocoon so my wings can fly. I will fight you, win the battles you throw my way, and I will win the war.

From now on, you are no longer welcomed in my life, unless there is a rational and real threat to my physical and mental well-being, but you will never get the chance again to tell me I am not deserving to live my life to the fullest potential.

“Fear Is Only as Big as You Allow It to Grow in Your Mind, Once Faced You Begin to Soar.”

Sincerely,

Kelly Rossi

Commitment is a Choice: Turning over Control to Regain Control

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I am the kind of person that cannot trust that those who are trying to save me from myself will not abandon me. It started out at a young age but intensified with my first treatment team. I was always honest about my eating disorder and behaviors but quickly realized that I was not part of the team. I had signed contracts on a weekly basis, I was told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and if I refused, I was threatened with hospitalization and being dropped by my team. After many inpatient residential stays and medical admissions, I started to hide my behaviors. I fluid loaded and wore weights to get weighed because I was forced to weigh four times a week, and I lied about my intake; by the end, I didn’t know truth from fiction. Everything became a power struggle, and I was going to win; however, I became extremely ill, and no one would believe me because I had lied so much. I knew I was dying, and I decided I would no longer keep “secrets” and was doing everything they told me to do, but at that point, it no longer mattered. My team dropped me after I was admitted with a potassium level of 1.2, and while in the hospital learning I was truthful about following my prescribed meal plan. My GI tract could no longer tolerate anything, and yes, I am sure it was from all the abuse I placed on my body. For the first time, as a team, we knew we did not trust each other. The decision to make a transition was mutual, but only because I had no choice; it was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not, but also realizing I needed a team that specialized in eating disorders.

The Transition: Giving up the option to die

It was terrifying knowing I was going to a team that specialized in eating disorders because I would no longer be able to get away with what I was doing. But, was I really getting away with anything? Yes, in my head I was going to die without committing suicide. My children would at least not have to live with the thought that their mom left them on purpose. I knew I would either have to take my life or give up the option to die, but when faced with death I fought for my life, so there was and always has been a healthy version of self. While the choice to die stayed with me for a long time after I made the transition, I knew the minute I met everyone on my new team that I trusted them. I would not let them know that at first, but right away it was clear that not only was I a part of the team, but I was also the driver of my recovery journey. However, the fear has stuck with me throughout the years, even though I have made significant progress, I have not been able to turn control over completely to regain control of my life.

Trust with Caution

I have never lied to my second team, but I still do not give out information unless they ask. I have no contracts, I have stopped all behaviors including loading, but in turn, I have refused weight checks. There is always one area where I need to retain control, so I give up one and add another, which has been a vicious cycle. With these cycles, I continue to sink further into the dark hole because I still have not opened up about my past. The fear of being dropped after divulging the horror I went through as a child and adolescent is still too great of a risk because I blame myself. My team supports me in every way, whether I can meet the intake goals or not, and even refusing to weigh, although they do not particularly like that idea. They have never once said they would drop me, so there is no evidence to back up my irrational thinking, but the fear and anxiety continues to control me and leaves me with doubt.

Turning over Control to Regain Control

What I failed to realize was, while I am not new in my battle to beat my eating disorders, my mindset has remained stuck in the all or nothing, black or white thinking, while my treatment team fights like hell to show me there is a gray area. That gray area scares me because I have never lived without my disorder. So, my team watches me sink into the quicksand quickly closing out any light that had once flickered until they can’t sit back and watch anymore. They throw me a rope that I have now shredded to the last thread and pull me back to the ledge, thus keeping me from submerging further into the hole I dug for myself.

Once pulled back to the ledge, I find that strength and motivation again to fight, and this time it will be different.

  • I am going to talk to my therapist about my demons, nightmares, flashbacks, and as soon as I get to a session, I shut down because the “What ifs” are a bigger monster than my past in that moment.
  • I have the motivation to take control of Ed, and this time I will eat the recommended meal plan. However, once I get to a session with my RD, what we discuss, although accurate, rational, and logical, as soon as I leave my head tells me it’s too extreme or unfair, and it will cause a binge.
  • When I see my medical doctor, I go in with the intentions of telling her everything, and I freeze because the unknown of her reaction takes over.

After every appointment, I end up sitting in my car crying because I know again that I will fail. No, I will not cry in front of any team members because it shows weakness, and I want so much to prove to them I will do it right this time, but each time is a rerun of the last session.

At some point, I need to come to terms that to climb out of the darkness for good I have to take the hands of those who care for me more than I care for myself right now. I have to trust that it is in my best interest to turn the wheel over to my team of experts before I can take the wheel again and drive my own recovery.

Commitment to Recovery is a Choice

I choose to stay in treatment because I still have hope that one day I may break free and have the courage to climb out of the hole, out of the darkness, and into the light; thus, turning over control to reclaim my life, confront the past, and let it go. There are times I want my team to take over, no options, no questions asked, and tell me what to do, but then I remember what that did to me the first time around. I can sign contracts and have “consequences,” but it does no good if it brings about power struggles, while I continue to do it my way. I acknowledge and take full accountability that my approach does not work, and I know my team is for me, not against me, and only wants me to live to my fullest potential. That cannot happen unless I am 100% committed to recovery because it is my choice, and not just what my team wants for me. What I have learned is that my team wants recovery more for me than I want it myself, and only I have the power to make that change. They can guide me in the right direction, but I need to follow that direction. However, I steer off the road and often end up hanging over the cliff. While I have helped many people make positive changes in their recovery from an eating disorder and or addiction, I am not an expert in my own recovery. I am an expert in keeping anorexia alive and thriving. I am an expert in enabling my disorder to lead me to believe all my fears will come true, and I am an expert in not allowing those I trust the most to guide me to full recovery.

Recovery is a Full-Time Job

Recovery is a full-time job that I keep placing on the backburner because it is so much harder than when I needed to start a new life after my injury by going back to school for my degree in Psychology, Human Services, and Addictions. School provided me an escape, but also an escape from the reality of where I am at in the recovery process. I have achieved a lot and have conquered many obstacles, but I do not give myself credit for what I have accomplished because I have not been able to turn over control to divorce Ed for good. Commitment is a choice, and I am choosing to give it my all for the next 365 days without judgment or hesitation by using my recovery journal that I am completing shortly. I cannot ask anyone else to commit to a one-year journey if I do not undertake it myself. Blind trust is hard, but sometimes in recovery, you just have to close your eyes, trust the process, and keep pushing forward.

A Tribute to My Dad, Lawrence Robert McMullen

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Dad,

We will never forget the day the doctor came out, the look in his eyes; we had no doubt. Our lives forever changed, the pain so great, the battle lost, no war to be won, we had to accept the fight was done. We would stand together McMullen Strong, and even in defeat, our love could not be beaten.

We learned a hard lesson from the Lord above, he answers all prayers, but not all prayers could he grant. God blessed us with 19 days to cherish every last second, every moment, every hour of the day. He blessed us with the gift to walk with you through the stages, and to hold you tight throughout the night. He granted our wish to stand together as one until your time here on earth with us was done.

December 6, 2011, is the day you said the Lord would call you home to be with your family who passed on long ago. Not a day has gone by that you are not far from our thoughts, the love we still feel close to our heart. Our hero, our protector you will always be, you have inspired our lives to be all we can be.

We know you are near, the messages you send hit home from your great granddaughter because you have remained her friend. You feared she would forget you, but there is no doubt, she sees you often, your thoughts she talks about. Her Guardian Angel, you were meant to be. Maybe that is why God had to set you free.

We wish we could see you one last time, hear your voice, hold your hand, and tell you our plans. We know you are watching and pushing us on, we can hear you say “You got this kid. Go after your dreams. You can be anything you want to be, but just do not sing.”

We cry, and we laugh at the memories we have, our family not whole, but you will always be a part of our soul.

Today, we will hear you just in our minds as you whisper those words one last time. “The seven most important people are here in this room” as we gather today to celebrate you with one last “See Ya” we needed to say, we love, and we miss you more each day.

The Cycle of Binge Eating, Bulimia, and Anorexia

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My cycles in and out of each eating disorder were dramatic. I would be extremely heavy to very thin, and I learned early on that it was never about food or weight, it was about feeling safe, comforted, gave me friendship, and having the control of what went into and stayed in my body.

Binge Eating made me feel insulated and untouchable. Bulimia made me feel powerful, and anorexia made me feel numb and invisible.

Early Years

From the age of five until the age of 17 I cycled in and out of each disorder, but at one point I found myself stuck in anorexia. I was so numb to the world that self-harm walked into my life. I had cut and burned at an early age, but that was different because, at the time, I was punishing myself for not being good enough. When it started again, I wanted to feel anything other than the turmoil going on inside me. Feeling pain allowed me to express my emotions externally and kept the emotions internally. I always knew the “why” behind my eating disorders and self-harm, but I had no voice. As children, we were seen and not heard. From the age of ten until the age of 15 I never felt good enough, I was the ugly sister, and most of the time I was the fat one. I hated myself, was riddled with guilt and shame, and I was alone in my head. The summer after I turned 15, I started working which gave me a sense of peace, and I felt useful. It took me away from my thoughts that were destroying my heart, body, and soul, but I began the cycle of binging and purging again. I also met my now husband of almost 31-years. We both worked together, hung with the same friends, and began dating, however, I could never connect intimately emotionally or physically without numbing myself. Two years into our relationship I found out I was pregnant. I gave up everything to ensure the safety of our unborn child, and it gave me an excuse to binge all the time. At 20-weeks’ gestation, our baby no longer had a heartbeat, and I was placed under general anesthesia to deliver. My unborn baby died around 14-16 weeks’ gestation, and I blame myself to this day. From that point on binge eating controlled my life over the next 11-years.

Married with Children

Although my binge eating disorder did not start because of having a chronically ill child, it morphed into a monster during the months and years (not days) spent in the hospital with him. The guilt of not being able to help him, not being with my son at home, and then having a newborn a few years later, who I could not breastfeed since she could not come into the hospital, binges became my comfort and friend. It allowed me to detach from all those feelings of being a lousy wife, mother, and person. I had a four-year-old who felt abandoned, a newborn who I could not bond with, and a child who had to wonder why mommy couldn’t stop the pain.

My Last Binge

I remember my last binge like it was yesterday, just as I did my first suicide attempt. It was August 19, 1996. My baby now four months old and my oldest son now five, my sick child three years old on this day, and was dying, by noon I had to be at 10,000 calories, and I was sitting on the floor in a bathroom at the hospital in disgust and despair. My husband and I no longer connected because we were fighting our own fears of possibly losing our child; was in the room with him, and I heard a code blue come over the announcements. It was my child, and I was not there with him. He was in septic shock and DIC, his kidneys were failing, and I was binging. I watched them shock him back to life, and I knew at that moment I would never leave his side again.

Therapy Began

At 300 lbs. my eating disorder was not validated, and my first therapist told me we could not deal with the problems until I got the binge eating under control, and if I just lost the weight, I would be happy. She sent me to the “fat” doctor who told me I was what I ate, and he put me on amphetamines. Six months later I was in my first residential for anorexia; however, I was at 85% of my ideal body weight and was not “sick” enough. I left there feeling defeated because I still was not discussing the reason behind my cycles of eating disorders, self-harm, depression, and suicidal ideation. When I first saw my therapist again, she told me to stay with the fat doctor, so I would not gain the weight back. Six admissions to residential treatment and three medical hospitalizations later, cutting out all food, exercising six hours a day, and addicted to amphetamines, I was finally sick enough, and my first team could no longer help me.

New Treatment Team

I knew I needed an ED team that would help me work on the “why” and from the moment I left the hospital and began with my new team who specializes in eating disorders and co-occurring conditions my recovery journey began. I was admitted to residential to get stable, but that lasted 12-hours, so I ended up on bedrest at home except to go to appointments and my driver’s license medically suspended, but with my new team I never binged again, all behaviors were in control, and I never took another amphetamine.

Finding My Way

Yes, there were and are setbacks, and real recovery did not start until I watched my dad die 6 1/2 years ago. He begged for one more year, six more months, one more week, and one more day; he got 19 days after we, as a family, told the surgeon to close him. He had no choice, he was going to die, but I had an opportunity to live and was choosing to die. I lost a lot of time with self, children, husband, and family because my eating disorders took control of my days. Over the last six ½ years I have faced many obstacles; injury, losing my career as a nurse, starting college again at 46-years old, dealing with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, learning to walk again, and the list could go on forever; however, I have remained behavior free. I still have nightmares of binging, which has left me terrified of facing fear foods and food in general, and I still cannot meet my daily intake requirements, but what I have realized is those dreams are telling me I still have work to do because I have not faced my past demons. While I cannot say I am recovered, because I still have a long way to go, I can say my mindset has changed, I have grown, found my voice, and I know who I am; someone I never knew existed.

 

Suicidal Ideation-Depression: How my life began with ED (Eating Disorder)

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The Beginning

I remember the day like it was yesterday, the day I asked myself “Why am I here, and why am I alive?” I was three-years-old. I would hold my breath until I passed out because I was hoping to die (at three, I was hoping not to wake up again). I would pray before bed asking God to please let me stay asleep forever, but he would never take me. Remember, I was three and already had suicidal thoughts and severe depression. Was I born this way? Was it because I was a preemie? Those questions I do not have the answer to, and may never know, but it has stayed with me throughout my life.

My First Suicide Attempt

By the time I started school my anxiety and social anxiety was so intense that my sister had to drag me a mile to school on a daily basis. She hated me (I don’t blame her), and would leave me at times in what I felt like was the middle of nowhere, but if I went home I would get in trouble; I was frozen in time, not able to move forward or backward. When I was in school, I isolated. I had no friends, and I would not even look at the teacher (Ms. Meredith), and if she talked to me, I would have a meltdown. At home, my father was always out, and my mother enjoyed her sleep; neither parent emotionally available for any of us. I had three sisters at the time (the fourth came a couple of years later), but I felt alone, and I did not fit in. I always felt as if I was the outsider begging to come in from the cold. All I wanted was to feel loved and safe, but I was terrified of life and the demon that lurked among us. One night I had woken up because of a nightmare, and there was a snow storm, and in my five-year-old brain, I thought if I went out in the snow maybe God would take me. I went out in a t-shirt and underwear, no socks and went to my neighbor’s house to swing on her playset because I believed that if I swung high enough I would reach heaven. My neighbor woke up to get ready for work and found me and took me home. Again, I failed. I did not feel in control of self or body, and in walked ED.

Defiance

My mother was raising four girls primarily on her own, and in hindsight, I now know she too suffered from depression, hence the joy of sleeping all the time. We had to be outside after breakfast, and only allowed in for meal times and when the street lights started to come on, and in bed before the sun went down. Three of us had a very rigid schedule where there was no deviation without consequences. Meal times were always a battle because we were picky eaters, and of course, my father (who did most of the cooking) was not making multiple different meals. He would have, but my mother did not allow it. Yes, the right thing to do, but not the best in action steps to get us to eat. If I did not eat, my mother took that as me being defiant, and I would have to sit at the table until that meal was gone. I would sit there overnight before she would allow me to move, but that meal was served until eaten; restriction began. While sitting at the table for hours I learned that the top part of the chairs came off, and there was a huge opening that went all the way to the bottom of the chair. So, to get out of eating food I did not like, I would wait until she was not looking and stuff it down the hole; hiding began. Once I was caught doing that she started to force feed me until I would vomit, which then I had to clean, so I had to find a way to take control of an out of control situation. My five-year-old brain had some amazing critical thinking skills going on to problem-solve facing the consequences. I figured I would eat what was served as fast as I could, and go right to the bathroom the get rid of it, and that work. I felt powerful, in control of my body, and I won the war against fighting with my mother, so maybe she would love me more and keep me safe; binging and purging began.

Blame

I do not blame my parents, or just my mother for my life with ED, because she was doing what she felt was best to ensure we were eating. She did not have the tools or coping skills to do anything different, and only raised us how she was raised. I never loved my parents any less than I do today. I have a close relationship with my mom, and we have discussed a lot of this, but some things are better left unsaid. Losing my father 6 ½ years ago, I miss him more each day, and he is the reason I am beginning this blog, telling my story, and writing a recovery journal. It is not the end, but just the beginning of how I am learning that sometimes you must give up control to regain control.