Fashion Dense: Self-Care & Rodeo Clowns

A while ago, I blogged my plan to start a series called "Fashion Dense" (I'm still really proud of the cleverness of the phrase, by the way. ;P), which you can read here. It's pretty much about the fact that I've been a tomboy my whole life and, now that I'm approaching 30 I figured I should start to figure out how to dress like a lady.

In other news, holy shit I'm almost 30....

Now, I'm always going to be a tomboy; I love comfy jeans and big sweaters and throwing my hair up into a ponytail. There is nothing wrong with this. But, as it is with so many other things in my life, I need balance. I have to know how to take care of myself/look presentable instead of always falling back on what it comfortable.

And that's what it has been for me - comfortable. Growing up, I figured if I didn't try too hard then I wouldn't look silly when I failed miserably. Plus, I felt like I was surrounded by these girls who spent hours and hours putting on make-up and changing clothes and etc., and that just wasn't me. I felt like my tomboy-ness set me apart.

However, just like those girls who feel like they have to have make-up need to realize they're just as lovely without, I need to learn that I deserve to not always look like a rodeo clown.

This, I've slowly realized, is another form of self-care. I've been doing really well to balance things I enjoy doing with things I need to do. Forcing myself to just sit down and read a book or watch some footy on TV. So why can't this balance and self-care extend to how I present myself? It won't change who I am as a person........ haha, I write that and I internally scream "Right?! It won't change who I am, right?!", so I guess that is what is hardest for me. I've defined myself by this laid-back "I don't care how I look" persona for so long that I guess I'm worried I'm going to turn into a person I've always tried not to be.

But that's not the case;
I have to keep in mind that this is another way I can take care of myself. And that I deserve to take care of myself. And I'm excited to reach out and get help from you all because I know, in some way or another, you understand what I'm saying.

I am multifaceted. I always have been. I can be both my comfortable, laid-back, tomboy self as well as a woman in big-girl-boots who can take on the world.

Yes. Yes, this I can be.

Why I (someone who has recovered from anorexia) Sometimes Tweet About Food

I understand that food is a difficult topic for many people in many different ways.

I also understand that all two of you who read my meanderings (;P) may struggle/have struggled with an eating disorder like I once did.

It took me a very long time to get a healthy relationship with food. Which, I think, is hard for the majority of people out there (regardless of whether they've had an eating disorder), because we are constantly surrounded by unhealthy messages. During my recovery, I remember reading somewhere that the majority of people who have truly healthy approaches to food had an eating disorder at one time. And, as I think about this now, I wonder if it is because we're more aware of how even the "little", "normal" thoughts that "everyone has" aren't entirely healthy.

I babble about a lot of different things on Twitter and my blog and, for a long while, I thought that maybe talking about food was a bad idea. The last thing I want to do is make anyone uncomfortable or trigger anyone. But, as time went on, I realized that -- instead of being damaging -- my new appreciation and relationship with food could possibly be helpful. I've noticed there aren't tons of healthy examples out there -- even a lot of the ones that appear 'good' seem to have caveats/underlying implications attached to them ("cheat days", etc).

This, of course, isn't to say I'm any sort of expert about food and eating and all the goodness that encompasses it. I am not a doctor, I do not have schooling in anything relative to this, I don't know a lot about nutrition and etc. etc., but I DO have an RFA (Recovered From Anorexia) Degree. And, thankfully, it has been a very long time since I've felt that food... any food... is my enemy. There have been many days where I sit down and enjoy a yummy meal and I cannot help but be thankful to not only be able to eat it, but to also enjoy it. To appreciate it.

What I'm trying to say is, the comfort of people I interact with/those of you who may be lurking and reading/etc. is very important to me. And I sincerely hope my jabbering about food-deliciousness doesn't make anyone ill at ease. That is far from my intent. But, if I am not open about this part of my life -- food in a post-eating disorder world -- couldn't that be a disservice? To you all and -- now that I think about it -- to myself, too?

Maybe this could just be another way to get a dialogue going.
Maybe this could just be another way we can honor ourselves.

Much love,
S

Sidenote: I am gluten-free because gluten affects my system (which you can read about here), but I don't focus on "eating this way" or "eating this way".  It is not a diet by any means, because I do not believe in diets.

Thanksgiving: Then & Now

There were many Thanksgivings I had to endure with an eating disorder.

Too many.

With every single one, I couldn't enjoy my time off from school, be present with my family, or really be grateful for anything. This usually resulted in me feeling like the worst piece of scum there ever was -- I had people who cared about me, I was blessed enough to have food to eat while so many people didn't. *sigh* Guilt, anxiety, and depression - my synonyms for "Thanksgiving".

I remember a lot about those Thanksgivings... feelings, though. Never any moments.

Eating disorders take away a lot. But one of the things I hadn't realized (until after I was recovered), was that it took away memories. My mind was never "there" because it was always thinking, obsessing, planning. Even when I tried to shut it out, it was still buzzing just below the surface.

Honestly, there is just one moment I remember back then. I stood a few feet away, maybe four or five, from my parents' long, dining room table -- and a little to the left of it. I remember exactly how the sun was shining through the windows at the other end -- mid-afternoon, a little too warm for fall but too cold for summer. I remember how the tableware had been set -- bowls in the middle waiting for the food my mom was still scurrying over in the kitchen. I remember the purple centerpieces my mom had set up -- these oblong whatsits and purple ornaments on top of a matching tablecloth. And the tablecloth wasn't long enough, so Mom had angled in a (surprisingly) Martha Stewart-type fashion.

And I just stood there. Looking at the empty table and the empty chairs and the empty plates and bowls.

Empty.

These days, I've been lucky enough to spend the holidays feeling full. Happily full. Full of family and friends, full of delicious food, full of gratitude.

Full used to be terrifying. In every way with everything. I guess it still can be, as I sit here on my couch, reflecting about it all. Full is a tough concept, a tough idea, and a tough feeling. But when I am full, I remember moments and I remember feelings. And I am so thankful -- so thankful -- that these days I get to be full of life.

If I could, I would hug every single person that struggles with Thanksgiving. I wish, so much, that I could take them with me so we could be together. But maybe we are, in a way. Aren't we? Because we aren't alone. Because I will think of them, and maybe they will think of me, too -- and try to remember that it can get better.

And that I am thankful for you. Because I wouldn't be filled up by all you wonderful people, now, if I had not been empty back then.

Love,
Sarah

A great event is happening on Twitter today called #thx4support. Please check it out!

(Photo from proud2bme.org)

"Enough"

"Enough" is a trap.

Whatever words you put in front of it devalues what really is.

I'm not PRETTY enough.
I'm not SMART enough.

Whatever you put after it can be even worse.

I'm not THIN enough to have an eating disorder.
I'm not GOOD enough for him.

There is no "enough". Nothing will fill it so that it suddenly goes away. "Enough" is a hole in your mind that stays and echos and will never be filled up.

Instead, it has to be shown for what it really is. It has to be challenged.
Enough for whom? For him? For her? For Mom? For Dad? For them? For you?

Nothing will be enough unless you say so.

You.

Because you are powerful and strong and worth fighting for.

You.


You are so much more than "enough".

Dysautonomia Blog Series: TICCTHMFNS - Adventures in Chiropractic....ia

We are halfway through our Things I Can Control That Help Me Feel Not Sucky (Dysautonomia Edition) blog series!

My apologies for the long delay between posts -- I've been trying to keep hanging on with everything. But, it is finally time to talk about how chiropraction....... chiropracticia.......

It's time to talk about how seeing a chiropractor has helped me!

In April 2013, Mr. S.E. Carson started seeing a chiropractor for various issues he wanted to take care of. While he and the chiro were chit-chatting during one of the appointments, Mr. S.E. mentioned me and my struggles with dysautonomia and fibromyalgia. To his surprise, the doctor nodded in understanding and launched into a full discussion with my husband about both illnesses. He then suggested I come in to see his wife (also a chiropractor) who has experience treating women with fibro and dysautonomia.

My Husband, being the wonderful man he is, was very excited about this. Not only that someone in the medical field had actually HEARD about these issues, but also that they were knowledgeable and felt like they could really help me. I, on the otherhand, wasn't so thrilled -- for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1) I've always been a bit leery about chiropractor and I have no idea why. I think, growing up, my Mom must've mentioned something in passing about this ONE rogue chiropractor who kept purposefully messing up peoples backs so that they would keep coming back to him and blah blah blah. Me, being the all-or-nothing kind of girl I am, apparently decided that meant ALL chiropractor are magical gypsies who know lots about cracking skeletons in just the right way to keep you coming back so they can make miiiiiillions while all your bones just continue to hitchhike aimlessly around your body.

Reason 2) I've sort of been jaded about people (especially doctors) claiming they know about fibromyalgia and dysautonomia. (Shocking, I know). The handful that say they do usually wind up knowing less than I do. It seems like they think they know about it it simply because they've heard about it, or read a blurb somewhere. It's like me saying I'm Kim Kardashian EXPERT simply because I read an article about her and will never get those 2 minutes of my life back.

Needless to say, it took a couple weeks for Mr. S.E. to convince me to go. Once I finally did, I found the chiropractor was very nice and, I have to admit, did seem to be surprisingly knowledgeable about my chronic illnesses. After asking me a thorough gamut of questions, she started poking around at me to see what the deal was. After a few "wows" and "hms" and a couple pops (that, I admit, felt oh-so-good), she told me that my body was a little messed up.

To steal a page from the brilliant Allie Brosh and The Oatmeal, here's my stab at a visual interpretation of my appointment.

Below is (as far as I can tell) a representation of a normal person's vertebrae:

(For those of you that need pictures that don't look like they've been drawn by a 5 year old... here's a picture (below) I borrowed from wikipedia:

And here's me and my vertebrae:

According to the chiro, my C1 vertebra (the very top one) is very much, and very angrily, out of place. This, in turn, messes with my spinal cord -- which moves down the spinal canal, straight through my spine/vertebrae. (Right: from idsportsmed.com)
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Additionally, there are a lot of very important nerves at the base of the skull. Most notably is the vegus nerve which communicates with the parasymathetic nervous system, part of the autonomic nervous system. The vegus nerve helps relay messages from the brain to the heart, lungs, stomach (just to name a few) and helps controls digestion and circulation. Sound familiar, POTSies?

(Below: a very nice picture I found at http://www.newhealthguide.org/Vagus-Nerve.html, which made it so I didn't have to draw the parasympathetic nervous system myself.

Everyone thanks you, http://www.newhealthguide.org/Vagus-Nerve.html)

3831120_orig.jpg

So, since my (wonky) C1 vertebra is at the base of the skull, it might very well be pinching, or affecting in some way, my vegus nerve.

Anyhoo, after she was done explaining this, and seeing as fibro and dysautonomia are both nerve related disorders, I decided it maybepossiblydid make sense how that the C1 could be affecting me. And, over the past year, I do feel that getting adjusted has benefited my health and quality of life. In fact, I can typically tell when I am ready for an appointment by how fatigued I feel.

Of course, as it is with anything I post here, it might not work for everyone. However, I feel it's important to have as much information as possible in order to begin finding out what does help.

And, as always, remember you aren't alone!

- S