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Posts Tagged “Guest Bloggers”

June 16, 2015

Living Moderation in a City of Extremes, Part 3: Recovery as Reclamation

Photo credit: Clare Harmon

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client, and woman in recovery

Before I launch into the topic du jour—recovery as reclamation—I’d like to tell you a story about my pre-recovery, pre-treatment life. Once upon a time, I studied music. I mean, I really studied it. Once upon a time, I practiced between five and eight hours a day; subordinated everything to the viola. Once upon a time, I gave myself to music. I worked hard, eked out a meager living playing weddings, subbing with various mid-tier orchestras, and teaching lessons at a small liberal arts college. Once upon a time, I went to music school and subsequently tried to “make it” as a classical violist.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a job I applied for (spoiler alert: they didn’t hire me) in the Lower Ninth. The same week I interviewed for that job, I was hired by my current employer—a stellar community school on Broad Street—to teach music fundamentals. At the time (and unfoundedly so), I was disappointed. I had it in my head that I would make a clean break from music, that I’d transfer my love of teaching to the language arts, to poetry, literature, the humanities. Music—all music—represented something destructive, a past that exacerbated my eating disorder and nearly killed me. I’m done with you, I thought. I’m on to greener pastures, a sparkling fantasy world where no one ever hurts and fancy unicorns expunge traumas grand and small. I’m leaving music far behind for pursuits clean, unsullied by my untidy young adulthood. I am a musician by economic, rather than ideological, necessity. As a colleague once callously announced, “I only play the viola if I get paid.”

May 26, 2015

Living Moderation in a City of Extremes, Part 1

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client, and woman in recovery

I’ve lived in New Orleans for almost two years and I dearly believe I owe some of my recovery to this deeply flawed, deeply rich, and very, very humid city. This, of course, is not to say, “come to New Orleans, recover from an eating disorder in ten easy steps!” Certainly not. Recovery is a practice, a set of skills, a way of thinking and acting. But for me, recovery is also about setting goals and meeting challenges and I can think of no more challenging a city than New Orleans.

Before I continue, I feel obligated to offer a disclaimer. I’ve tried many times to write about New Orleans. Upon first arriving two years ago, I reacted expectedly: Louisiana is not Minnesota and New Orleans is not like any other American city. And this, at first, is perniciously charming to a born-and-bred Midwesterner. People smile, there seems to be music everywhere, the lushness of live oaks gives gracious respite from a near-suffocating Southern sun. But eventually, the tourist’s rose-colored glasses come off and you realize this is a city of extremes: wealth and poverty, corruption and goodness, violence and fellowship. And then, of course, the Storm, about which the complex befores and afters I have only just begun to fathom. All that said, I’ll do my best not to fetishize the city I cannot help but love.

May 19, 2015

Relapse

This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

By Liz Rognes, a former Emily Program client in recovery. She is a teacher, writer, and musician who lives in Spokane, WA.

I’ve relapsed many times. I’ve had everything from little hiccups, slips, trips, stumbles, big falls, to full-on crashes. When I first started treatment, I couldn’t make it a day without using eating disorder symptoms or without obsessing about some aspect of food, my body, and my perceived lack of worth. Frequent relapses fed my eating disorder. Any time I slipped or crashed, I would sink into shame. I would count relapses as evidence that I was not capable of succeeding and that I did not deserve to get better.

Friends and treatment providers would challenge me on that kind of thinking, but I couldn’t seem to escape it. I would feel positive when I was doing well, but when I struggled, I felt like I lost all traction, and all of the negativity of the eating disorder would come rushing back at me.

April 10, 2015

A Little Hope, a Lot of Support

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

By Liz Rognes, a former Emily Program client in recovery. She is a teacher, writer, and musician who lives in Spokane, WA.

I have always been something of a perfectionist. As a student, I aimed for straight A’s and I was involved in everything, but just beneath the surface, I was filled with insecurity, uncertainty, and shame. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I had terrible anxiety, and I didn’t know how to talk about it, so I just kept feeling anxious. Bulimia and anorexia became a way for me to attempt to manage that anxiety, but instead, my feelings of anxiety and shame intensified. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout high school, and when I moved away to college, I thought it could be a way to finally escape the eating disorder. I thought that moving away from my little Iowa farm town, away from old triggers and patterns, might simply erase the eating disorder chatter and urges.

And, in fact, for the first semester of college, things were okay. I was using eating disorder symptoms less than I had been before. I made friends. I learned about new concepts and theories in my classes: music theory, feminism, philosophy, and I discovered that I loved talking about ideas and examining various points of view. I felt inspired by academia, and I knew that I wanted to give my whole attention to my studies, but I still had the pull of bulimia holding me back.

March 31, 2015

Confronting Fear Food in Recovery

This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

By Clare Harmon, a former Emily Program client, and woman in recovery

When people ask me about my recovery, I always say that it is, above all else, a practice. It’s the application of skills I learned in treatment, daily reflection, forgiveness, and grace. Of course, everyone’s journey to, in, and through recovery is unique; I’m honored to be given the opportunity to articulate a bit of my own.

February 24, 2015

What is Beauty? Part 1

Photo by Caroline Yang 

Each statement about beauty is representative of that person’s unique perspective. Some statements include descriptive language about body types and body shapes. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

It’s eating disorders awareness week and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Saint Paul Ballet again this year. Last year’s Take Back the Tutu (part 1 and part 2) helped bring awareness to appreciating our bodies for what they can do. This year, Saint Paul Ballet is talking about how they personally define beauty. 

A message from Brittany Adams, St. Paul Ballet Company Member

Diversity within our company is at our foundation. Our differences make us stronger as a family and help define our goals and confirm our dedication to the trade. Our art is our number one priority – and presenting it genuinely without covering up any part of who we are has become our focus.

Get help. Find hope.