Eating Disorder Questions

This past week I received several questions via email. Since they are recurring questions, I’m going to post my responses here.

I would like to preface this post by stating that I do not have a degree in psychology. Please do not take anything I say as medical advice. Please understand that when someone asks me a question, I respond from my own experiences. While I am not a psychologist, I have attempted to glean wisdom from past doctors through my recovery and will often refer to what they taught me. With that being said, if you need medical assistance, I highly recommend you getting it.

1. What will I look and feel like after my recovery from an eating disorder? 

That is an incredibly multi faceted question, but I will share with you what I know. First off, I would focus on recovery, which in it of itself will be uncomfortable because you are stretching yourself. You are growing in virtue and character and God is molding you into the daughter He destined you to be. Always remember that nothing worth while is easily attended, you may take two steps forward one day, and a step back the next and this is okay. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged, hope is essential. You fall down and you get right back up, you fall down again the next day after promising yourself you wouldn’t and then you get back up again and again and again. You must fight for freedom. God’s grace will be with you.

In terms of how you “will look and feel after recovery” – that is different for everyone. I am aware that this is a difficult thing to think about, so I commend you for your positivity. I am going to use myself as an example so as not to cause undue worry upon anyone. I began restricting food from myself in 9th grade. Negative self-image thoughts blew out of control when I was in 8th grade. One day I overheard some girls criticizing a girl who was overweight. Uncontrollable thoughts raced through my head, Oh my goodness! What if they think that about me? What if I’m fat? I didn’t want anyone talking about me negatively, so I began to take matters into my own hands.

Now let’s back up for a moment, in 8th grade when this began, I was one of the skinniest and tallest girls in the class. I was very athletic and ate whatever I wanted without thinking about it. I mention that because when asking what it will look and feel like after an eating disorder one should take a look at themselves before their eating disorder began.

  1. I was not even close to being fat.
  2. I was a very competitive runner
  3. I had a very high metabolism
  4. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without even thinking about it.

I mention these facts because everyone’s body is different. And that is something you need to pray for the grace to accept. But don’t just accept that your body is different, embrace it and claim it as your own. When you do that, you will find freedom.

How does one do that?

By prayer, frequenting the sacraments and working with a doctor or counsellor who specializes in eating disorders.

To sum up the answer, everyone’s body is different and there is no generic response to life post eating disorder. I think it is very important to examine your body type prior to your eating disorder. More often than not, that is how God designed you and that is something you should be proud of, not ashamed of. And naturally as you began to eat more, or less if that be your case, your body will get use to you fueling it appropriately. But this takes time, so try not to get discouraged, take it a bit at a time. If you are an athlete, think of your recovery as training. When you first learned to run you didn’t go out and run ten miles, did you? No, you ran a mile. If you are a musician, the first time you sat down to play the piano you didn’t play Fur Elise did you? No, you probably played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Hot Cross Buns or something similar.

You must take it a step at a time.

2. Is a full recovery possible? 

Another great question!

I think it depends on what you mean by recovery. Here is my thought process. Please do not reprint this without my permission.

The word recovery means restoration or return to health from sickness. What if you were in a car accident in which you broke your left leg? Your leg would be put in a cast and you would walk with crutches. When your leg healed, the doctor would remove the cast and you would proceed with various physical therapy exercises. At first, it would be painfully to apply pressure to your left leg and you would unconsciously use your right leg to support a majority of your body weight when walking. As you process in physically therapy and your bones heal, it will become easier to apply equal weight to both legs. Eventually, it will feel normal again. So does this mean you are fully recovered? In my opinion, no, and here is my logic behind it.

As your left leg heals, scar tissue will also form, which can easily prevent range of motion, among other variables. Even if you were to get the scar tissue surgically removed, it will still be different from your right leg. So what does that all mean? It means that your leg is in remission, it is as normal as it can be. You might not be able to turn it a certain way or bend it as usual.

Life after an eating disorder is a life in remission. Yes, you can be recovered, but you could always slip again. Just the same way a patient with cancer can always get cancer again. No doctor can tell a cancer patient that they are not going to have cancer again. Now I don’t want this to discourage you, so please read on. I can tell you from experience that I have gone weeks and months without thinking about my past habits in regards to food. But, I still have my memory and sometimes I do think about where I have been and where I am today, which is only natural.

I want to clarify what I mean about being in remission in regards to eating disorders. Everyone has certain tendencies and ways in which they cope when stress, sadness, loneliness, grief and change. In relation to eating disorders, some people over eat and some under eat when these emotions arise, both are disordered. As you go through recovery you learn how to deal with stress in a proper manner, a manner that will not incapacitate you from carry out everyday tasks. Also, unlike cancer, you make the choice if you are going to relapse again or not. As you go through recovery, you will learn the correct way to act when stress occurs and you are left with the choice to either act upon what you learned or your impulses. To live in recovery requires on act of the will, but the more you make the right choice the less you will think about it. For example, I don’t give it a second thought to have dinner and then a bowl of ice cream. In the past, I would make a conscious effort to sit down and eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner, it was more like a chore than a treat. Of course if you are just starting out on your recovery process, focus just on eating dinner.

If you want to be free, if you want to be normal again, eat out with your friends without worrying or wondering if you will go home to over eat, than turn to God. He is the One who can help you control your tendencies and habits. Surrender to Him and I guarantee you it will be okay. It takes courage and strength to do this and if you don’t feel as if you have the courage, then ask for it, because it’s yours for the asking.

“To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.” – John Henry Newman

Email me at ifightHimwithlove@gmail.com and I will include you in my Rosary intentions. This is all I have time to answer at present. More answers to come soon, and if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the beautiful and talented Marie Miller!

Dear Readers,

I would like to encourage you to listen to a brilliant musician – Marie Miller! I’m sure many of you already know her, but just in case you don’t I wanted to share her music with you today.

I believe it’s exceedingly important to support artists who carry and present themselves with dignity and modesty. I couldn’t think of a better role model for young women then Marie in that regard. Marie comes from a wonderful Catholic family in Virginia. Marie began performing when she was eleven, performing at local churches and bluegrass festivals with her family. Marie is a complete musician that not only has an incredible singing voice, but also writes her own songs and plays multiple instruments. Curb Records recognized Marie’s potential and signed Marie to an artist and publishing deal. Their faith in Marie paid-off when her first single Cold enjoyed a four-month run on the Christian charts. She is now back and forth from Nashville, TN and Shenandoah Valley area Virginia.

Check out some of Marie’s amazing talent.

Below is Marie and her sister Justina

Pretty incredible huh?

During the past few days I have received several questions from young women about eating disorders and I really want to encourage you to listen to the following song by Marie. It speaks into the life of an eating disorder and the dignity that each woman has being created in the image and likeness of God. Marie describes beautifully how God is waiting for you to come to Him, so He can heal you. I want to encourage you to surrender all to our Father in Heaven, so He can transfer you.

If you can’t envision that, or if you don’t know how it will feel, let me tell you something that will be published in my book this winter. At my lowest weight in high school at 5 feet 8 inches I was 35 pounds lighter than I am today. The fact that I am alive today is a gift, it’s a miracle. The day I surrendered all to Him, is a day I’ll never forget. I can’t even compose a string of words to describe how scared I was when I did surrender it all over to Him. Was I going to gain 100 pounds? Blow up? What was this going to be like? No, none of that happened, He simply wanted me to be healthy and return to my pre-eating disorder weight.

What God has done with my life is mind-blowing to me. He wants to do that for you too. Take that first step, surrender your life to Him and let Him work through you. Tell Him you want to be the weight that He wants you to be. I know it’s so hard, but I’m vulnerable with you today because I desire you to have the same freedom. Listen to Marie’s song and let her words speak to your heart.

Wonderfully Made v1-2.3

Please visit Marie’s website by clicking here. You can buy Marie’s music on Itunes as well.

A Little Lighter Than Usual

The more I delve into my manuscript the more I realize how precious life is. The other day I sat there in a coffee shop awe-struck that I’m alive. God has such a distinct purpose for our lives and its beautiful and astounding to ponder. My manuscript is going well and will be sent out for review on Dec. 1.

Someone asked me to describe what writing a book is like, well, it’s a tremendous amount of work. Imagine the longest paper you ever wrote, which was probably 20 pages. And then add-on 200 more pages . Yesterday I rewrote a sentence 17 times. I’m my own worse critic. A page that I think is captivating and well written might not appear that way to an editor, which sometimes can be frustrating. My desk right now has a printer on it, reams of crisp white blank paper, ink cartridges, legal papers, my ipod, countless drafts of my manuscript, a binder 5 inches thick of notes, my flash drive, Rosary beads and my favorite crucifix. That crucifix has seen the twists and turns of my life and will must definitely be in my pocket at my book release. It’s the most precious thing I own.

I’m really grateful for the wonderful support people have shown me. But I ask for your prayers because equal to the encouragement people who shown, there are many people who have discouraged me. I know it’s only God’s calling that matters, so I ask for prayers so I can hold that thought in my heart and mind always.

Do you want to see the cutest little boy ever?

That’s my nephew Sean! I love him to pieces and can’t wait to see him soon. A few weeks ago he told me he wanted to make “cupcakes with his Aunt Maura.”My heart melted.

The other night I was writing late and made hot chocolate because it was cold. I thought it looked pretty, so I took a picture.

Then I walk into the kitchen and what do I see?

My roommate, Tala doing her homework while sucking a scorpion lollipop. Yep, I kid you not. See.

I thought, how gross. And she said it was fine because it was dead. To which I respond, I do not like bugs – dead or alive in my lollipops. 

She said it was fine because it was covered in sugar. So I said, if I had saved the hopper, dried out his carcass and covered him in hot sugar you would lick around him?

Who is the hopper you might ask? Good question! My roommate CeeCee wrote the following to our other roommate Mariu in an email, because Mariu was on call that night at the hospital and CeeCee didn’t want her to miss out on all of the fun we have while she is away.

Dear Mariu,

Tonight I planned to go to bed early. Last night was a late night and today was a long day. I went to leave my room a little while before bed, probably to use the restroom and I saw a huge bug outside of my room. I tried to run from it. It hopped into my room. Cute, right? I thought, oh maybe this will be fine. I will be able to sleep with a hopper in my room. Then I could hear it hopping and doing other bug stuff that bugs do. Then I looked under my bed after pulling some shoes out and I saw it under my bed against the wall. I was afraid it was going to get me while I was sleeping so I made a wall of pillows around me.

Then I realized that a hopper can just jump over a pillow wall. By the way, did I say what a hopper was? Its mom is a spider and its dad is a grasshopper. This is just speculation, but the two mated, and formed a super-jumping-ugly bug. This is the hopper that decided to mess with me today.

By the way, I am also very afraid of bugs. I scream a lot, or rather, I squeal in terror at them. So, I was looking for a broom and Maura saw me and said she would kill it if she could get a napkin. She is not one to be afraid of bugs. Then she saw the ugly thing and decided it was too hoppy for her to try to kill. Then we got the vacuum cleaner and tried to suck it up.

Only it was faster than us. Maura thought it had gone left towards my night stand, because she had seen it jump left. Now I know the number one rule of bugs in the bedroom is that if you see it go to the left it actually has somehow jumped without your eyes detecting it, to the right! I know, I know, unbelievable! So then we cleared out all my shoes from under my bed, and we look a lot to the left. Then I stood there just perplexed hoping we would find it. Maura had kinda thought it wasn’t going to happen, but I couldn’t go to bed until we got it out.

Then Maura said, “It’s behind you!” and of course I screamed like a girl really high-pitched like. Then Maura suggested we name the hopper. I had been calling it a him up to this point so she decided to name him Chadwick. I don’t know why.

So, we had really had enough. He had last been seen behind me over by the dresser. So this was the moment. We knew we had to do something serious. Radical. Radically available, what? So, we moved some things underneath the dresser and there was the little hopper just waiting. This time Maura knew what to do. We got serious. She said, “We are going to pray a Hail Mary and then turn on the vacuum.” So we prayed a Hail Mary, positioned the vacuum in the right place, and she asked St. Francis to pray for us, and then Maura slowly moved the vacuum hose into the position.

Then she said, “Turn it on now.” And you wouldn’t believe what happened next!!!! We got it. We sucked it up. Just to make sure everything was fine we took the vacuum outside and then checked the vacuum. Maura saw it in there and dumped it out into the grass!!! We got the hopper! We got the hopper!

All glory and praise be to God who is almighty and gives us the strength and precision to suck up the hopper in the vacuum. God is so good!!! (And Maura is my hero).

I hope you have a great night. God is real and answers prayers. Amen.

Love, CeeCee

That was the hopper and I dare anyone to eat him on a stick.

Okay, moving right along…well, I’m falling asleep, so I’m going to wrap up for tonight. I hope to post something deep tomorrow. But, before I go, guess what I made?

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I came home and started vacuuming, taking out the trash and making cookies all at the same time. I am very much my mother’s daughter in that regard.

My mom would always make us fresh cookies at the weirdest times. For example the kitchen would be a mess or she would have a million other things to do and what does she do? Make cookies!

This week was also my brother James’ birthday. James is a very special brother and I love him very much!

Well my friends, sleep with the angels and raise with the saints! Thank you for reading my blog and please continue to pray for Made in His Image!

From the Heart of a Young Entrepreneur

Beauty is everywhere. Sometimes you need to seek it out and other times it’s impossible to miss. Well my dear readers, Made in His Image is going through one of those “impossible to miss” times. And I want to share the good news with you. Yesterday in the mail I received the file-stamped original charter for Made in His Image! What does that mean? Good question – I wouldn’t have known before a few months ago either. This means that the secretary of state excepted our proposal for Made in His Image to continue to apply for it’s non-profit status. It went through speedily, for which I am very grateful. Now, we can proceed further with the IRS. We are almost there and it’s exceedingly exciting!! You can now go on the secretary of state’s website and look up Made In His Image!! How amazing is that?

Also, my lawyer wrote a letter to Bishop Choby to ask permission for Made in His Image to identify itself as a Catholic private association. One of my favorite parts of the letter is that St. Maximilian Kolbe is mentioned in it, as he is one of the patron Saints of Made in His Image. My love for Saint Kolbe is deep, and this winter you can read why in my book, Choosing to See Beauty. My sweet friend Jade went to Poland a few weeks ago and visited Auschwitz, where St. Maximilian Kolbe was murdered. She took this picture for me.

Cell number 18, where St. Maximilian Kolbe spent his last hours. When Made in His Image is built, patients and visitors will be greeted by his statue upon entering and there will also be a stained glass window dedicated to him in the chapel. Here is the letter.

The Most Reverend David Choby

Bishop of Nashville

2400 Twenty-first Avenue South

Nashville, TN 37212

Re: Made in His Image: Request for permission to identify as a Catholic private association pursuant to Canon 300 and submission of statutes for review pursuant to Canon 299 3.

Your Excellency:

I represent Made in His Image, a Tennessee non-profit corporation erected for the purpose of founding, under the patronage of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a facility for the treatment of women suffering from the effects of abuse and eating disorders. The purpose of such a facility will not only be to provide treatment for the physical and mental symptoms such women exhibit, but to do so in an environment that explicitly recognizes each patient’s dependence on God and the dignity that flows from the patient’s creation in God’s image. The hope, then, is that Made in His Image, while providing physical treatment, will lead women suffering from these conditions to the spiritual treatment provided by the Church and Her Sacraments, for which many find themselves in substantial need.

Made in His Image was founded by a domiciliary of this diocese, Miss Maura Byrne. In addition to Miss Byrne, two of the other members of the Board of Directors reside in this diocese: Dr. Michael Ferri and Dr. William Bellet. The work of Made in His Image is and will continue to be carried on here in the Diocese of Nashville, where it is hoped the facility will eventually be constructed. These individuals, all secular Catholic laypersons, have joined in a common endeavor that I believe will qualify as a private association of the Christian faithful dedicated to charitable works and the animation of the temporal order with a Christian spirit.

Although the assumed name of the organization does not contain the word Catholic, Made in His Image would like to be able to advertise itself as dedicated to the Church and Her teachings. Thus, in order to comply with Canons 300 and 299 3, I submit the enclosed charter of Made in His Image for Your Excellency’s review. I further, on behalf of Made in His Image, request that, provided Your Excellency deem it appropriate, Made in His Image be permitted to identify itself by the name Catholic. 

Please accept my sincere thanks, on behalf of Miss Byrne and all of the directors of Made in His Image, for Your Excellency’s time and consideration. In closing, please accept our sincere prayers and wishes for Your Excellency’s health and for God’s continued blessing of the entire Diocese of Nashville.

Kissing the Sacred Ring.

Oh my goodness, I love it so much!! I read the letter at least five times yesterday, I was so excited. I wish you all a great day and weekend! Someone asked me to post my recipe for croissants, so I may do that this weekend if I have time. I was sick a few days this past week, so I need to make up some writing time this weekend, so please pray for that.

Seek beauty in all things, even in the ambiguity of life. For there truly is beauty everywhere, even in the cross. AMDG+

From Deep Within

It was a hot summer day the first time I saw Lauryn. I was at the YMCA running on a treadmill and adjacent to me was a young woman working out on the stair master – Lauryn. I noticed her when I glanced to my left to check the time on the giant clock that hung on the wall. Lauryn’s physical appearance frightened me. Having myself recovered from anorexia, I can nine times out of ten pick out a woman who is struggling.

My heart started racing as I relived a night I could have died. I pressed pause on the treadmill and got off. I started to walk over to her, but then thought, No, I shouldn’t say anything I would never want to make her feel uncomfortable. But I wrestled with these thoughts for a moment because this beautiful woman looked as if at any moment she might pass out.

I got back on the treadmill and offered up a few miles for her. I didn’t know her name, but I knew our Father in Heaven did. I never stopped praying for her and wondered if I made the right choice in not saying anything at the gym. Miraculously, several weeks ago I meet her. She is right now undergoing treatment and I am grateful for the gift of her life. Lauryn is an exceedingly brave and courageous woman and I post this today to ask you to please pray for her.

It is not often that you meet someone who truly is vulnerable and writes from the heart. Well my friends, that is what Lauryn does everyday, as she blogs about the struggles and joys of recovery. Through her eloquent writing she takes you inside the mind of someone struggling for hope, struggling for change, struggling to fight and struggling to live.

The following post really touched my heart deeply, and is in essence why Made in His Image must be built. The following is written by Lauryn, and you can follow her blog here.

I Hate Anorexia!
I just received some sad, unsettling news yesterday that has really been on my mind a lot the past 24-hours.

My heart is weak.

This is something I know is a result from years of abuse and malnutrition in my body, but yesterday, I went to see a cardiologist for an EKG, ultrasound and stress-test on my heart. The stress test revealed my heart is not pumping at its peak, vibrant level.

The human machine was not meant to function off of minimum nutrients and over-work.

The body needs nourishment, activity, rest, sleep—all in proper balance.

For this neglect, I am now picking up the pieces, and praying that the damage that has been done is reversible.

I HATE anorexia! I HATE eating disorders! I HATE not living life to the fullest!

Anorexia is selfish—and takes all prisoner that it infects.

It is a horrible, silent, deadly disease that destroys—and leaves nothing unharmed if it can help it.

It wreaks havoc on the body, wringing it’s sly, grimy, smooth, forceful hands around the neck of the victim’s heart, organs, hair, skin, “life” in the eyes. Choking the victim’s ambitions, life pursuits, relationships, experiences.

Anorexia laughs at the sufferer in the face, while it’s victim discovers that what she once thought was her best friend, is really her worst enemy.

Anorexia seeps and sucks the joy out of her life. It keeps the victim to itself—not sharing her with anyone else—even those who love her most. Anorexia latches on to her, digging its fingernails deep into her skin, begging, pleading, “Don’t leave me. You need me. Life is meaningless without me.”

Anorexia creeps and crawls in the shadows. Anorexia loves the dark. Anorexia puts up a wall between its victim and the world around her—like she’s trapped in a bubble. Anorexia takes her hostage. It ties her hands behind her back and straps her to a chair with a bandana in her mouth. She is seen, but not heard. She fights, but cannot break free alone. Anorexia threatens, “If you make a peep, you’ll regret it. Sit still, don’t fight, don’t move.”

Anorexia whispers in her ear, “They don’t know what they are talking about. They don’t know YOU.” Anorexia pretends to care for her—but then turns its back on her, laughing and pointing in her face.

Anorexia also points and laughs when she looks in the mirror and it tells her “You’re too thin—look at how sick and disgusting you look,” or, “You’re fat and ugly and stupid.” Anorexia laughs when she pulls on her jeans and they fit tighter than they once did. “Look at your butt, look at your hips. They don’t look like they should…how could you let yourself go?!”

Anorexia is the ball and chain attached to her ankle—she drags it wherever she goes, no matter the change in scenery. For, change in environment is really not the answer to the solution; change in scenery doesn’t attack the root of the problem, but seemingly runs from the problem.

Anorexia killed one of her dear friends. The 20-year old girl didn’t see it coming. She was just living her life and she collapsed. Anorexia doesn’t discriminate and, whomever it can take hold of, its ultimate purpose is todestroy. Anorexia was laughing at her funeral.

Anorexia is the mean, big bully on the playground she doesn’t want to face, but she knows nothing will change until she does. She has to meet it “by the flagpole” and face it head on—although a bloody nose may ensue.

Anorexia wears boxing gloves—always ready to duke it out, punch her in the stomach and give her a bloody nose—when she least expects it.

I will be taken captive NO MORE. To God alone be the glory. To God alone may this life be lived for.

I HATE ANOREXIA.

Please Help Made in His Image get to Baltimore, MD

People often ask me, Where did your faith journey begin? My answer is the same every time. It began my junior year of college through Varsity Catholic. 

Hello, my name is Maura. After college I worked for a non-profit organization called Varsity Catholic, which is a subdivision of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). I worked as a Catholic missionary to bring the love of the Gospel to student-athletes on college campuses, since I was a collegiate athlete myself.

In September 2011, I founded and launched a non-profit organization called Made in His Image. Made in His Image will be the first Catholic medical center in the country to offer holistic healing to young women suffering from eating disorders and the effects of sexual and physical abuse.

In January 2012, I have an incredible opportunity to attend the 2012 FOCUS Summit to promote my ministry. The FOCUS Summit is a conference for students from across the country. In order to have a table there to promote Made in His Image I need to raise $2,500.00. I want to ask you to please prayerful consider helping Made in His Image get to Baltimore.

The ministry that I have embarked upon is so much more than just a “charity.” For these women, the issues that they are faced with is a matter of life and death. And this organization exists to offer them hope, a place of refuge for them to come and receive medical treatment and most importantly, be introduced to the love of the Father. Please help me get to Baltimore, MD through your financial support, as well as your prayers.

Because it takes several months to become a non-profit in the eyes of the state and IRS, unfortunately your donation at present will not be tax exempt. Please email me at IfightHimwithlove@gmail.com if you would like to make a donation or have any questions, and I will tell you how to proceed. I truly appreciate your generosity.

To read more about Made in His Image please visit my blog at www.ifightHimwithlove.wordpress.com