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I’m Back…

23rd July 2010

I’m Back…

by Greta

Hi Everyone,

It has been months since I’ve posted, and I apologize.  I’ve been ridiculously busy… first it was school, then graduation, working two jobs, doing proposal edits for my agent, and now I finally have a minute to breathe.  I have so many posts in my head, so I guess I’ll start with my personal life and recovery.  About six months ago, my partner decided (operative word) that she was going to become spiritually enlightened through Buddhism.  I couldn’t have been more happy.  Through this process, she has drastically cut out unhealthy food from her diet, essentially cleansing her mind, body, and soul.  She has been a long-time sufferer of IBS, so she had a reason to change her nutritional regimen.  Since she made the decision to change her eating, she has never looked back.  Of course, this has caused her to lose quite a bit of weight, and she was already thin.

Enter my insanity.

As an ED in recovery, I, naturally, think that this can’t be good.  My thoughts race.  She’s be in denial.  She doesn’t realize she’s doing this on purpose.  She really wants to lose more.  She must have an eating disorder. So, I allude to her that she’s becoming anorexic and she gets offended.  Okay so that’s my first clue that she does not have an ED.  Moreover, she tells me that most people who tell her she’s too thin are people who only wish they could eat as healthily as she.

Enter my reality.

She is right.  I was completely jealous.  After struggling for years with the ED, then struggling with mental obsession (although it has lessened) in recovery, I was dumbfounded how, in one swoop, she just decided to completely change her life.  Just how is it that one can evolve so quickly?  While she is not in a recovery program, her behaviors seem to mimic the 3rd step of all 12-step programs… Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. I’m no longer a 12-stepper, but the third step just keeps popping up in my brain.  Another phrase embedded in my brain from “the rooms” was that we had a god-sized hole that we were trying to fill up with food, alcohol, people, etc.

What I’m learning is that god-sized holes aren’t just for addicts, and my partner has shown me that many spiritual solutions exist outside the rooms of AA/OA–no matter how much people in the rooms tell you otherwise.  Second, another major difference between my partner and I (besides being separate people, lol) is I’m the one with the eating disorder.  Solely losing weight does not make for an eating disorder–a symptom of an ED, yes.  But, as we all know, EDs are full of biopsychosocial/spiritual complexities, and considered a disease by most medical professionals.

I still have food patterns that bother me… though, it’s my perfection and ED voice that are most bothered by them.  By non-ED standards, my food intake is healthy.  So, because I have this “disease” hanging over my head, does that mean I cannot make a decision and evolve overnight?  It certainly makes me wonder.  I haven’t been able to do it so far, so probably not.  As “normal” as I try to be and free myself from the ED identity, it seems to always be hangin’ around in some form or another.  I remember in treatment professionals telling me that as many years as one is in the ED it takes an equal amount of time in recovery to undo the ED mindset.  So, I have about a decade to go I guess!  Something to look forward to, lol.

Anyway, that’s all for now!

More posts are on the way!!

posted in Author, Greta, Mind & Body, Recovery | 8 Comments

23rd June 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In: A tide-you-over post until we can write something in more detail

by charlynn

I have a feeling I’m not the only writer for the-f-word.org that is insanely busy right now since no one has posted in over a week. On behalf of the three of us, you have our apologies. We hate it when life gets in the way of blogging just as much as you do. :)

With that in mind, here comes another roundup of links instead of a fully thought-out post, but at least it’s something new…right? Right!

MSNBC profiles three women who gained weight as a result of illness, not overeating. One struggles with a hormonal imbalance and has noticed how people treat her differently because of her weight. Another gained weight as a result of taking steroids for migraines. The third woman developed insulin resistance, and prior to developing her condition, believed that obesity was a “couch potato disease.” Not any longer — she says she is ashamed for being so judgmental in the past.

In case you haven’t already heard about this, former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard is speaking about her experience on the show, saying she left the show with a distorted body image and developed an eating disorder. She is going public with her story because she feels that some elements of the show are misleading and hurtful to viewers.

Haaretz.com in Israel has a fantastic story about what life is like at the eating disorders unit at Sheba Medical Center.

And finally, the Los Angeles Times published an article a couple of days ago about the Maudsley Approach. Success stories as well as skepticism about the method are discussed.

For the sake of discussion, what has everybody been doing while we’ve been absent? Share your latest by making a comment!

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, Charlynn, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Recovery | 12 Comments

17th May 2010

Announcing The-F-Word class of 2010: Charlynn and Greta!!!

by Rachel

Dummm … da da dum daaaa dum …. dummm … da da da dummm …

Congratulations to Charlynn and Greta on their college graduations! Charlynn, pictured right, graduated with her bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology, which pairs well with the degree in addictions she earned last summer. She plans to stay in Laramie while her husband finished his master’s degree in communication, where she will get “some sort of job so the bank account doesn’t die.” When hubby finishes his degree, he and Charlynn plan to move someplace warmer and with a decent job market. Charlynn says she’s not sure if she will go on to get her master’s degree, and is still seeking that perfect mix of a job that “requires more creativity, especially if that entails me being my own boss and/or creating my own vision in my work.” Greta, meanwhile, already has her post-graduate plans mapped out.  Now that she’s completed her master’s degree in social work, she plans to do a two-year specialization in eating disorders at a psychoanalytic/CBT psychotherapy institute.

Please congratulate both Charlynn and Greta on their amazing accomplishments!!

posted in Eating Disorders, Other, Rachel, Recovery | 4 Comments

14th May 2010

Free “Heal from Emotional Eating” teleclass on June 10

by Rachel

Friend of the blog and health counselor Golda Poretsky is offering a FREE 90-minute teleclass from 8 – 9:30 p.m. EST  June 10 on how to heal from emotional eating.  Oh, yeah… Did I mention the class is FREE?

In this 90-minute teleclass, Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. (founder of Body Love Wellness and leading authority on Health At Every Size) will share her top techniques for healing from emotional eating — the same ones she shares with her private coaching clients.

You’ll walk away from this call with surprisingly powerful, yet simple techniques for healing from emotional eating.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

* Easy ways to reconnect with your body’s innate wisdom.
* The one essential vitamin that you’re definitely missing.
* Why you can’t stick to diets (hint: it’s not about willpower).
* Why you find it hard to stop eating at night.
* How to heal from habits that no longer serve you.

Whether emotional eating is a new problem for you or you’ve been doing it as long as you can remember, you’ll get at least 3 BIG insights into how to heal from emotional eating that you’ll be able to use immediately to reconnect with your body and eat healthfully with ease.

Register HERE.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Rachel, Recovery | 3 Comments

13th May 2010

Geneen Roth releases new book on women, food and god

by Rachel

I discovered the works of Geneen Roth early on into my eating disorder and I found them to be immensely insightful and helpful in helping me come to terms with the emotions driving my own disorder.  If you aren’t familiar with her, Roth is a writer, teacher and founder of the “Breaking Free” workshops, which she has conducted nationwide since 1979.  She is also the author of Feeding the Hungry Heart, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, and When Food Is Love.  Now Roth has released yet another book, which I’m sure will be a “godsend” for many struggling with food addictions and other related behaviors.  Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is getting rave reviews, including from such luminaries as Anne Lamott.  Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

…after more than three decades of studying, teaching and writing about what drives our compul-sions with food, Geneen adds a profound new dimension to her work in Women, Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. But it doesn’t stop there. Geneen shows how going beyond both the food and feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul to the bright center of your own life.

With penetrating insight and irreverent humor, Roth traces food compulsions from subtle beginnings to unexpected ends. She teaches personal examination, showing readers how to use their relationship with food to discover the fulfillment they long for.

Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to freedom, says Roth. What you most want to get rid of is itself the doorway to what you want most: the demystification of weight loss and the luminous presence that so many of us call “God.”

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body…and almost everything else. Women, Food and God is, quite simply, a guide for life.

This book isn’t for everyone, obviously — it seems geared towards people who follow the Christian faith* — but the emphasis on self-examination and understanding our food-related behaviors sounds promising.  If anyone has read it, let us know what you think.

* Thanks to readers who clarified that Roth’s concept of “God” is not necessarily Christian-defined.

posted in Book Reviews, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Rachel, Recovery | 31 Comments

27th April 2010

Skinny dreams meets skinny reality

by Rachel

I have never liked running.  Before I lost weight, I thought I didn’t like running simply because I was physically unable to run and believed that once I lost the weight, I’d magically become one of those cross country runners sporting an armband iPod and gloating about my runner’s high.  Fast forward one year and 175 pounds lost.  I weigh 125 pounds, wear a size four and guess what?  I still can’t run more than a mile before dissolving into a huffing and puffing red-faced mess.

MSNBC has a great story out today on people who’ve discovered that the skinny dream is just that… a dream. The story profiles three women, all of whom thought their lives would be just fabulous once they lost the pesky weight holding them back, and discovered that weight loss isn’t a panacea for life’s problems nor has it made them a better person.  Self-described “accomplished fat girl” Jen Larsen had a master’s degree in creative writing, a great job working in an academic library, a great boyfriend and a slew of friends.

By age 32, she believed she’d be writing a book, “doing something important,” she says. The only thing holding her back, she thought, was weight.  “Not so,” she now says. “The only thing that’s different is the size of my ass.”

Larsen thought skinny came with a mega-boost of self confidence. And a huge dollop of happiness. She thought she’d be dynamic and brave and ready to take on the world, just because she was thin.

“I think fat people are sold a fantasy, and then get no support in the reality, because we’re simply supposed to be grateful that we’re no longer fat,” Larsen says.

…In a culture obsessed with BMIs, the tears and triumphs of “The Biggest Loser,” and the latest-greatest surefire way to lose weight and keep it off, Larsen’s take on her new lean physique sounds like heresy. But weight loss chat rooms, forums and blogs are filled with people who are wondering why their newfound svelte selves and stellar metabolic profiles are leaving them ever-so-slightly disappointed.

Jennette Fulda, a.k.a. PastaQueen, was a national merit scholar, her high school class valedictorian and graduated with highest honors from college — all accomplished while weighing 372 pounds.   “You can be fat, accomplished and pretty darn happy.  I think people forget that,” she said.  ““I guess we all really think that losing weight gets rid of our issues. But in so many ways we’re still the very same person, not that skinny woman we dreamed about.”

It’s something that Darliene Howell, 55,  knows all too well.  A yo-yo dieter since the age of 6, Howell says she’s tried “every diet on the planet” and has counted calories, points, carbs and proteins “until I thought I was losing my mind,” she says. She finally lost 100 pounds on a liquid diet.  “I’ve weighed 150, 250 and even 300, and each time I lost weight I thought I was going to live the skinny dream,” she says. “My life was supposed to have changed. I thought I was supposed to be more popular, more attractive, if only I were thinner. Well, that didn’t happen.”

I think many of us suffer from the delusion that is the “skinny dream” — that if we just lose weight, everything else will follow.  We will become vastly more interesting, creative, outgoing, self-assured.  Guys will beat down our doors laden with bouquets of roses and people much cooler than ourselves will clamor to be our friends.  We’ll finally land the dream job we’ve always wanted, become a veritable social butterfly, get the guy and live happily ever after on that thin, thin cloud of delusion.

Reality check: weight loss, in itself, is unlikely to bring about any of the above.

I’ve been morbidly obese and I’ve been on the low end of the “normal” range of BMI and have now settled somewhere comfortably in between.  Before my weight loss, I also suffered from the delusion that my weight and weight alone was the only thing holding me back from becoming the person I wanted to be.  I discovered all too quickly that happiness can’t be found in the junior’s department. If you read the so-called weight loss success stories, they’re chock full of just how awful and miserable an existence life was before weight loss and how fabulous it is after.   And yet, I have never understood (or fully believed) these people who lose weight and lay claim to some newly found self-confidence that has just laid buried beneath fat, like a diamond waiting to be mined.  If anything, I was even more insecure after my weight loss than before!  I still battled the same self-doubts and fears.  I still had the same old fat girl self-image.  I still had the same money problems.  I still had the same unresolved family issues.    The only thing that changed was that I went from being morbidly obese to morbidly afraid of regaining the weight.

This is not to say that weight loss did not change my life in any significant way.  I sincerely believe I would never have landed a contract job with a major computer corporation had I weighed 100, 75 or even 50 pounds more than what I weighed at the time.  Sales clerks, professors and classmates and even some family members treated me more nicely than before.  It was easier to find fashionable and affordable clothes in my size.  My personality even changed after my transformation to the point where my sister, the person to whom I was closest to at the time, remarked that I was like a new person.  It wasn’t that weight loss freed some skinny girl inside me clawing her way out, but rather that it took a while to reconcile my split identities between living Life as a Fat Person and Life as a Thin Person.  For a while, I felt like an imposter infiltrating a thin insider club, a fat girl masquerading in a thin suit, laying claim to a title I had no right to claim.  I always thought I wanted to be part of them, the Thin People, but after my weight loss, I found myself literally disfiguring myself with body piercings in an attempt to salvage some element of my Fat Girl identity, to show that I wasn’t one of them.

Although I struggled with my identity, being thin did not grant me membership to some exclusive club in which being thin absolves you of all your problems.  If anything, the compulsive calorie-counting, over-exercising and general obsession with my weight only created more problems and took away from the time I could have dedicated instead to facing the existing problems I had, like, oh, resolving longstanding issues with my mother, my poor self-esteem and dead-end job situation.  And surprise… once I committed to face the real problems head-on, my issues with food and  body also began to resolve themselves.  

How about you?  Did you (or do you still) suffer from the delusion of thinness?  How did your skinny dreams measure up to reality?

posted in Body Image, Mental Health, Personal, Rachel, Recovery | 41 Comments

22nd April 2010

Was your health insurance policy canceled after an eating disorder diagnosis?

by Rachel

Reuters, via MSNBC, today has an absolutely heart-breaking story on women whose insurance companies found ways to drop their coverage shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer.   WellPoint, which has the most policyholders (33.7 million) of any health insurance company in the nation, is one of the worst offenders — it specifically used a computer algorithm to target  newly diagnosed breast cancer victims and then triggered a fraud alert for aggressive investigation with the intent to find any pretext, no matter how flimsy or relevant, with which to cancel their policies.  Women who had paid their policies faithfully for years suddenly found themselves without insurance just when they needed their coverage the most.

The process of canceling one’s coverage shortly after a diagnosis of a life-threatening, expensive medical condition is known as rescission.  Insurance companies have used the practice for years and while cases of such have been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and even a congressional committee, laws restricting the unethical and illegal use of the practice aren’t enforced as they should be.  As one former federal prosecutor explained, “The industry just has these tremendous financial, legal and political resources that others don’t.  In my own state (Calif.), regulators are often afraid or unwilling to go up against them.”

According to the article, the two conditions that most commonly trigger rescission both affect primarily women: breast cancer and pregnancy.  Breast cancer can be costly to treat and pregnancy holds the potential for a child born with a disability, so policyholders with these conditions are scrutinized and probed more closely for possible rescission.  Other conditions are targeted, too.  Assurant Health was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements after it was determined that they similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission.

The article left me both enraged and curious…  Some 11 million people are afflicted by eating problems, ranging from anorexia and bulimia to binge eating, according to the NEDA.  And eating disorders can be very costly to treat, especially anorexia and in cases requiring in-patient treatment.  The self-pay cost at the Renfrew Center’s Philadelphia treatment center, for example, runs a staggering $8,050 per week!  We’ve heard of families suing their health insurance providers to cover more of the costs associated in eating disorder recovery — these suits, in fact, helped fuel the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 — but I haven’t heard of a case yet in which an insurance company targeted a person or family for rescission following an eating disorder diagnosis or request for coverage in the treatment of an eating disorder.

But just because we haven’t heard of one doesn’t mean that the practice doesn’t exist.   In the case of the women with breast cancer, one woman seemed to become aware of the pattern only after joining a breast cancer support group in which four of the five women in the group saw their policies canceled as the result of their diagnosis. State agencies can and do conduct audits on health insurance providers, but companies like WellPoint have fought “vigorously” to keep incriminating information from prying government eyes.  An investigation last year by the House Energy and Commerce Committee determined that WellPoint and two of the nation’s other largest insurance companies — UnitedHealth Group Inc and Assurant Health — made at least $300 million by improperly rescinding more than 19,000 policyholders over one five-year period.  But when committee investigators asked for contact information for some of the records grudgingly produced by WellPoint, the insurance company refused to give it.   Investigators then suggested that WellPoint itself could inform the ex-policyholders that a congressional committee had interest in their case and WellPoint declined to do that as well. If you aren’t aware that a pattern of criminal behavior exists, that you’re a victim of it and that there are others like you, how do you even know to fight back?

I’m curious as to whether anyone here has had their insurance policies canceled as the result of an eating disorder diagnosis or even because of their weight or other health conditions.   Share your health insurance horror stories in the comments below.

posted in Eating Disorders, Legal Issues, Mental Health, Rachel, Recovery | 7 Comments

21st April 2010

The perils of perfectionism

by Rachel

I’m in the fourth week of an advanced dSLR community class and our first assignment — five images of patterns, manual setting — is due tonight.  There’s about 35 people of all skill levels in the class and we’re going to spend the evening sharing and critiquing everyone’s work.  I really wish now that I had waited to take the class — I’m hopelessly busy with about 20 different projects and while I don’t lack in motivation, I lack the time to shoot really well-crafted images to my standards.  I was getting a little stressed last night trying to cram in as many shots as I could before class tonight and I was trying to explain the madness to my husband.  “You don’t understand,” I said.  “Not only do I have to take five images of patterns, but they have to be the five best images of patterns in the whole class!”

I admit it… I’m a highly competitive person, prone to excess, beholden to the Draconian voice in my head that compels me to be the very best at practically every undertaking I attempt.  When I was in undergrad, it wasn’t enough to make the Dean’s list — I had to be the very best and cleverest student that professor had ever had (which probably led to my unfortunate typecast as Suck-Up).  My type A personality certainly paired well with my eating disorder.  No matter that it had taken more than 20 years to put the weight on, I wanted it off immediately and was hellbent on achieving that goal, health be damned.  I constantly pushed myself to run faster, starve longer, burn just 100 calories more — all the while excelling in my undergraduate studies while holding down a full-time job.  Even now, years into recovery, I still feel a twinge — okay, more like a maddening compulsion — to outdo my sister-in-law (the diet junk food-munching Weight-Watcherer), who’s recently taken up running.  And I don’t even like running!

I’ve self-analyzed my perfectionist and competitive nature with perhaps more scrutiny than Freud ever dedicated to his psycho-babble-sexual theories, and while it may be, in large part, simply my DNA-encoded personality, part of it stems from being growing up a fat kid.  The taunts and jeers started in late grade school, picked up steam in junior high and become a daily battleground throughout my high school years.  My mom used to be an EMT and I was always fascinated by the stories she’d tell of emergency rescues (I later became an EMT myself), so in middle school, I poured through her EMT training book, absorbing multi-syllabic words I could barely pronounce, let alone knew what they meant, and when other kids would begin to harass me for my weight, I’d throw back insults that often left them scratching their heads in puzzlement.  Even with my personal history of more clumsy gaffes and embarrassing blunders than I care to remember, I still have a kind of phobia at being laughed at and it’s this crippling fear, I believe, that lies at the heart of my maddening need for perfectionism.

I’ve come a long way in easing this self-imposed compulsion since entering into recovery for anorexia and bulimia.  One of my greatest triumphs, in fact, is that I graduated with my master’s degree only cum laude, and not summa or magna cum laude.  Yeah, yeah… I can see some of you rolling your eyes in bemusement, but for me those few tenths of a point meant the difference between a complete nervous breakdown and mere over-exhaustion.  When I interviewed for my job several years ago, the news editor asked why I would make a good reporter.  “That’s easy,” I said with a laugh.  “I’ve embarrassed myself so many times now that I have no problems talking to anyone.”  And it’s true — I’ve been able to plunge into my work in even the strangest of situations without that familiar paralyzing fear of appearing stupid or ridiculous. These days, whenever that need to be perfect jackknifes in my brain, I try to stop myself, take a few deep breaths, and mentally repeat, “I do not have to be the best.  I do not have to be the best.  I do not have to be the best.“  Some days I even believe it.

Okay, so I’m undecided as to the last two images I should share.  Again, the assignment was to take five manual setting images of patterns.  Here’s the three I’ve decided on (click for larger res images).

And then I have to pick two more from among these images.  Which ones do you suggest?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

posted in Eating Disorders, Personal, Rachel, Recovery | 22 Comments

6th April 2010

Cable TV program seeking people with eating disorders

by Rachel

I’m passing along this casting call, but with the caveat that I don’t know the “major cable network” involved nor how eating disorders or obesity will be portrayed in the program.  If you’re open to publicly sharing your struggles on TV, it may be a way to get some free in-patient treatment.

Casting Call Information
City: Any City
State: National

All-new Documentary Series Now Seeking People With Eating Disorders and/or Food Addiction for Major Network.

Do you or someone you know, live with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, Compulsive Eating, or Morbid Obesity? Is the food problem affecting your life and lives of your loved ones? Does it prevent you from living life the way you want?

A major cable network is currently seeking individuals struggling under the weight of eating disorders and/or

food addiction, who are in dire need of help. This all-new documentary series will follow everyday people in their courageous journey through the battle and into recovery towards a better way of living. Selected applicants will receive in-patient treatment at an eating disorder clinic that seeks to help people find lasting change. So, if you’re ready to get busy getting better, start on the road to recovery, we want to meet you!

**Must be at least 18 years of age and available to shoot for 6 weeks straight during the summer of 2010.

Site registration is required to respond to the casting call.  The site offers premium subscriptions, but also a basic membership in which you can respond to casting calls after a certain waiting period.

posted in Eating Disorders, Rachel, Recovery | 1 Comment

26th February 2010

NEDAW: Recovering, a_witha_teeth_a

by charlynn

I cannot go through this again
I cannot go through this again
I cannot go through this again
I cannot go through this again…

The words fade and give way to a synthetic drizzle of the melody, piano following along in the background. Together, they create the calm static of a dreamlike state, where all is zen. You’re floating oh-so-comfortably…

…and then, without warning, the rest of the band hits the ground running with its assault of drums, guitars and more synth. You are suddenly shattered back to chaotic reality.

“A-with a-teeth-a,” Trent Reznor sings with a venegance only he fully understands. I picture him literally biting the object of his passion and ripping it to shreds with the intensity of emotion matched in his voice.

She will not let you go
Keeps on and on
She will not let you go
Keeps on and on
This time, I’m not coming back
(she will not let you go)
-Nine Inch Nails, With Teeth

If I ever needed a song that described my emotions during the first year of my recovery, it was this one. Put simply, I was a mess. My state of mind changed rapidly from “I’ll never purge/starve/put my body through this shit again” to chaos and self-destruction. I never knew what would flip my emotions upside-down, for better or worse; sometimes it depended on the hour, the minute, the anything.

Everything felt like punishment. If I ate, I felt disgusted with any feelings of satiety I might have given myself. If I didn’t eat, I knew I wasn’t doing what I was “supposed” to be doing as a part of recovery, and therefore I felt like crap about that as well. If I had it both ways and ate/purged, the emotions doubled in their intensity each way. No matter what I did, I couldn’t win. At least with the eating disorder, I knew what I could expect. In this mess called recovery, I still felt like a prisoner to my eating disorder, only now I was attempting escape, getting caught, and paying what seemed like even more brutal consequences than what I was dealing with before.

I hated everything. I hated myself for getting into this mess in the first place, for my lack of understanding the world – and myself – without an eating disorder. I hated gritting my teeth and moving forward with recovery, because dammit, it was hard, and I felt absolutely clueless about whether I was really getting better or if I was completely fooling myself (and everyone else). What if everything I knew was a complete farce? I felt alien in a world where everything should have felt familiar, but the rules had changed, and I no longer knew the rules. Once I thought I had them re-learned, there was always that one little exception where, of course, I screwed everything up. Or so it felt.

As much of an emotional roller-coaster 2005 was for me, I had two inspirations that guided me. The most important was my husband, Patrick, who I met in October 2005. He didn’t miraculously save me from my woes, as he can attest, but he helped me help myself by making me feel worthy of being saved. Even when in doubt, that kept me going in the years that have followed.

The other inspiration was With Teeth, the Nine Inch Nails album released in May that year. The timing and theme of this album couldn’t have come at any better time for me. After a four-year absence from releasing new music and touring, Reznor finally revealed his biggest project ever: putting himself back together.

near-fatal heroin overdose woke Reznor up; he realized he would lose himself to drug and alcohol addiction if he didn’t stop. He checked himself into rehab and endured a detox that “makes him shudder to this day.” He’s been sober since June 11, 2001.

Reznor warmed slowly to writing new music. He wasn’t sure if he had anything to say now that he was sober and questioned his future in the music industry altogether. However, a renewed clarity surfaced once the process began. Eventually the words came together and Reznor recorded With Teeth, the soundtrack to his journey of re-defining himself.

Learning that Trent Reznor, a musician whose music I had adored since the age of 13, had undergone his own process of recovery, sparked inspiration in me. It not only gave me a new appreciation for his music, but I also developed a deep sense of respect for him as a person – not just for surviving, but for speaking openly about his addictions and the journey back. It was exactly what I needed. He returned from his own private hell stronger than ever…and so could I.

I listened to With Teeth for about a year straight with little interruption from other music on my playlist. Every song resonates with some stage of recovery, from the confrontational “Don’t you fucking know what you are!” in the song You Know What You Are? to “What if everything around you isn’t quite as it seems?” in the ending track, Right Where It Belongs. In the same way that I identify with certain songs because I listened to them repeatedly when I was active in my eating disorder, this album became my recovery anthem. The title track, With Teeth, represents the turning point for when healthier days started outnumbering the disordered days. The album as a whole is not only Trent’s story of moving forward, but it became embedded into the soundtrack of my own story as I took a leap of faith and kept going myself.

How has music played a role in the course of your disorder and recovery?

posted in Arts and Music, Author, Charlynn, Eating Disorders, Personal, Recovery | 11 Comments

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