Skipping Records

Oh, depression! It’s this insidious undercurrent, difficult to explain, articulate, and pinpoint, and yet it’s presence is so stark, so absolute, so heavy.

Without being able to define what it was I was experiencing, I struggled to even “be” with it. I didn’t know what it was, I just knew it was there. And it was more than just a discomfort. It was like a voice that was screaming bloody murder in my head, only I couldn’t hear it. There was something I needed to hear but the sounds wouldn’t come through.

It was dizzying. I recall many of the worst times when the silent noises were the loudest and I would bring my hands to my head, squeezing hard, just desperately wanting the noiseless sounds to stop swirling around inside.

They didn’t.

Then, there came a moment in time when I was able to describe a particular feeling associated with the depression. It was angst. There was a constant, incessant vibration of angst that ran through me but I couldn’t explain what it was or why it was there.

In that moment of recognizing the angst I asked my wise friend how he defined angst…because I couldn’t. I knew only how it felt and vibrated within me but I didn’t know how to explain it.

His definition blew me away. I felt like, for the first time in my entire life, I had an answer to the stream of haunting white noise that flowed within the recesses of my being. I could identify it and, as a result, could begin to hear it.

His definition of angst: “The feeling that something bad will happen or that something good will end.”

I sat with that for a bit and understood that that is exactly the tension that I was holding in my body. It was a constant state of fear (stemming from a childhood trauma) that had me on high alert all the time, taxing my nervous system to the point of fatigue, confusion and incomprehension.

From that point forward, when I felt the angst and tension  in my body, when I became aware of it (which I was able to do through my practice of mindfulness and breath awareness), I began asking myself two questions:

  1. Is something bad happening?
  2. Is something good ending?

Often times, there was nothing happening at all – nothing bad happening or good ending, not in that particular physical moment anyway.

What was happening though, what I was able to recognize, was that there was a broken record of old memories playing in my head. The record had ended a long time ago but it had kept skipping at the end. The needle had never retreated to the starting position in order for a new record, a new sound, a new song, to be played.

Now, when I feel the angst and ask the questions, it’s like I’m able to stop, pick up the needle, and move it to a new song. It still gets caught and skips every now and then but, when it does, I am able to pick up the needle, recognizing that I’m just stuck on the old song, and then place it on a new one.

Now is the moment of power and all power comes from within.

Depression is not outside ourselves. It is within. And, if we are persistent, I believe we can all locate the spot where the needle is stuck, un-stick it, and move it to a new song.

Be persistent and don’t ever give up. Depression is not who you are.


Trust the Process

We plan and work and recover but, the reality is is that sometimes we hit something and get thrown from the boat, even despite our best efforts at planning and problem-solving. It surprises the hell out of us, shakes us up a bit. We’re unsure of where it came from, what hit us.

It’s not defeat. It’s completely natural.

Our recovery, our self-discovery, is revealed in layers. Every time we’re hit, thrown, blindsided, it’s simply an opportunity to learn.

When we first start treatment and move into recovery, we do things that are new and foreign to us. It feels awkward, like we’ll never get the hang of things. But, as we start to repeat the new behaviors they become easier. Of course, we still “slip up” in treatment and even in recovery but, when we do, we’re more in tune with ourselves. We start a very earnest process of self-inquiry. We start asking ourselves questions and problem-solving with ourselves. Why did I do that? What happened? How was I feeling? How could I have done things differently? And then, because of the process of self-inquiry, when that thing that trips us up happens again, we’re able to approach it a little bit differently because of what we learned from the other times it happened. Each time it happens, we just get better and better, more skillful at handling it. Until, one day, it just isn’t part of our existence anymore. We don’t even notice it right away either. And it’s such a beautiful thing.

Interestingly, this very thing is the whole process of life. The things that upset us, whatever they may be, are simply opportunities for us to watch and learn. There are no accidents or mistakes. All of it, everything, is simply a wide open field of opportunity where we learn and evolve and then move on to the next thing to learn. It never ends. Not in this lifetime.

Each moment, each step, each experience, it is all good. Everything, we will see, if we will take the time to stop and listen and honor the trips and stumbles, is working out for our greatest good. We can absolutely trust the process. Do not be discouraged.

As we head into this holiday season, which can be an incredibly painful time for many people, and especially for those with eating disorders, know that you’re not alone and that every seeming misstep is actually a right step towards greater self-awareness.


Lasting Change

The binging, the purging, the starving, these aren’t the real problems. They are not the cause but only the effects.

Lasting and permanent change from an eating disorder comes not from fiddling with the effects but from the recognition of the discomfort within that arises that we want to obliterate from our awareness because it is so uncomfortable.

We need to go deeper into cause, into self-inquiry, and start asking, “What is in me that is causing this discomfort?”

And then, we don’t do anything. We watch, we notice, we become curious rather than punitive, and simply allow the healing power of presence to permeate our existence.

And remember, there is no deadline.


* If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to email me. My contact information can be found on the Contact page.


Energy flows where attention goes!

I’ve been traversing uncharted territory the last few months which has been rather stressful. I thought I was doing okay but it’s finally caught up to me.

For me, I’m watching the onset of another major depressive episode. I didn’t see it coming actually. But, what is very good news is that I do see it now. With much greater clarity, too, that I have before. It is not something that is happening to me that I must defend against. It’s actually my body communicating to me. I’m listening.

Over the last couple of weeks is when I really started to feel it. In hindsight, I was ignoring it, plain and simple. I didn’t want to see it. I kept plying my mind with messages like, “Push through. Keep going. This too shall pass.” Ultimately though, it wasn’t passing. It was getting worse and I couldn’t keep pushing.

In these times, my body starts to feel heavy. The physical pain pours through every nerve, joint and organ in my body. My blood feels like it can’t flow. Then, my mind gets involved and tries to override what my body is doing or, rather, not doing, until it too gets heavy and frustrated. It becomes so focused on what I can’t do and thinks I should do which only seems to perpetuate the situation. The worse it gets, the worse it gets.¬†I was starting to fall into the stream of the depression which ultimately puts me in a hopeless place and only focused on all that is wrong.

What I have come to learn over each encounter I’ve had with depression is that when things get to this point, the more I do, and attempt to do, the worse it really does get. It’s like finding yourself in quicksand and then struggling to get out which only makes you sink faster and deeper. In these moments, the only thing to do is stop!

As the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. today, I struggled to move. So, I stopped and asked myself a very simple question, “What is it that you want?” The answer was just as simple, “I want to feel good.”

I turned my focus on wanting to feel good and rolled with it.

I want to feel good. I like feeling good. I like having time and freedom to lie in bed, relaxing in the morning, having slow slips of coffee. I like thinking about the things that make me feel good. I like reading in bed in the morning and preparing my mind and body for the day. I like feeling relaxed. I like feeling light and airy. I like feeling my body move with ease and grace. I like being open to ideas and possibility. I like flexibility and freedom. I like feeling good. I just want to feel good. All I want is to feel good. I am hungry. I want to eat breakfast. I like eating good food. I like preparing a nice breakfast that tastes good. I love how my body responds comfortably to the food that I lovingly feed it. My body is incredibly strong and powerful. I love my body. I love how it takes care of me. I love how it speaks to me and I love that I respect it and honor it and listen to it. I love taking care of myself. I like feeling good. I deserve to feel good. Feeling good makes me smile. I love this feeling of lightness and freedom. I like feeling good. I want only to feel good. Feeling good makes me happy. I like feeling happy. I am happy. Happiness floods my body. My body responds to happiness. I am a happy person. I smile thinking of being happy and this feels good. Feeling good is all that I desire. I love this feeling.

And, what I’ve found is that focusing on a feeling is far more powerful than focusing on a list of things I should do and then feeling bad about not having achieved any of it.

Instead of the 4:30 a.m. slug to the yoga mat, which has actually been rather detrimental since I was arriving at my yoga mat from a place of disdain and discomfort, I chose to lay in bed and let myself feel good. Laying in bed felt really, really good. I allowed myself rest and good thoughts. It helped.

This is how important it is to respect and honor when we’re not feeling good and to strive to improve the feeling of happiness with very simple thoughts rather than through forced action from a place of unease and unhappiness. Through repetition and the culmination of a string of good-feeling thoughts, good feelings start to flood the body.

The better it gets, the better it gets.

Thursday Confession

I have a confession to make.

I may be recovered from the eating disorder but I am far from “perfect”. I do not even experience pure happiness all the time. Recovered, to me, simply means symptom-free, physically speaking. And while that is in no way “simple”, for it is a huge advancement in and of itself, I am, as a human, in a constant state of recovery.

Urges and dark moods and well, life, still make their appearance at my doorstep.

Over the last few days I have felt tremendously heavy, energetically speaking. I’ve felt lethargic and frustrated and tippy, unsure of what will trigger the tears next. Seemingly small things have felt insurmountable. Think even walking.

What is different now is that I don’t (for the most part) act on the feelings. If I did, I would be binging and purging, blaming, worrying, pacing with anxiety.

This is the practice I’ve learned. In these moments of tremendous discomfort and pain, the practice is “Do not act.” Now is not the time to make decisions. I’ve let the pain not be personal. It’s an energy and it needs to be released. There is nothing to figure out and analyze. I’ve experienced enough of these episodes to know, without a doubt, that this too shall pass. It always does. And the more I try to figure it out, the worse things get.

I am doing tremendously well, the best I can!

I took time. I slept. A lot! Though the inclination is to do, I did not. I sat with it, the pain, and let it play out. There was no escaping it.

For someone who hasn’t experienced this level of pain and discomfort, it may seem odd to accept it. But, that is all there is for me to do. This is radical acceptance at it’s best and I do the best I can to care for myself through these moments of darkness.

There are a million things I could “blame” this on, too. My job, other people, an imminent divorce, my body, the dog, the rain, the cold. But, none are the true culprits. There is nothing to blame and chastise. I feel pain. Period. I do not need to explain it nor do I need to defend it. And, I certainly do not need to go into it in order to let it go. In fact, doing so only tightens the knot. The best thing to do is put it down and let it untie itself.

It hurts. Hours can seem like an endless abyss of time. But then, the storm passes and the light returns.

The storms cleanse. This is what is happening to me.

I am not immune to the storms just because I am “recovered”. I just don’t go out in them when they come. I shelter myself the best I can and allow them to pass.

If I can offer anything to anyone who may be encountering a storm, it is this: “Do not act. You need do nothing. You do not even need to let it go for, in fact, you can’t. Letting go is not of you. Try your best to allow it, let it be okay, and it will leave on its own. In spite of this, you are still here – still beautiful, still worthy, still valued and loved.”

Peace to you. You are not alone.

Playing Your Edge

What is the edge?

It’s proverbial. It’s the precipice where balance is precarious. Too much to one side causes us to lose balance.

We each walk an edge each day but, the edge is not the same for everyone nor is it the same for everyone each day.

This edge, it teeters. The edge itself is always moving. It is our job to learn to move with it. As the edge moves, so must we. We do not control the movement of the edge but we do, and can, control our own movements on the edge in order to stay aligned and balanced atop of it.

This is life! Learning to play this edge, easing up on rigidity, letting go of the rails, opening to the sway and unsteadiness, these are the doorways out of the confines of an eating disorder, or any rigid living pattern that has you feeling trapped and stuck.

Stand, quite simply, on your own two feet and close your eyes. Breathe. Feel the imbalance. Notice your body naturally swaying to find balance. You know, instinctively, how to flow with life. You are still here.

Don’t be afraid of the edge. Begin to understand the nature of it, the dynamism of it. Observe the unsteadiness and feel yourself still alive within it.

This is all right!

Open to Love

This is a poem I wrote as I began to actually experience movement and transition into a healthier state, when recovery no longer felt like work, and life started to blossom.

I share it here to offer hope, to let you know that you are not alone, that no matter how dark things are, if you focus on light, even in the absence of it, It will come. Be expectant and open to love.

With all my love to you, my peace I give to you.


Joyful and happy,
A sweet little girl,
Smiling and hopping,
Bouncing her curls.

Freckles and smiles,
Covered her face,
A soul full of innocence,
Taken in haste.

Abandoned and frightened,
Lost and alone,
A dark, empty heart,
And a soul full of stone.

Her body abandoned,
Left empty and cold,
Warmth and love were desired,
But starvation took hold.

Then hunger took over,
Desperate to fill,
The dark empty hole,
That invaded her still.

Food became love,
And self filled with shame,
Light turned to dark,
And emptiness came.

No one took notice,
She was slipping away,
But she wanted to be loved,
She wanted to stay.

Then lightness flowed over,
Her body of black,
Sensations of love,
Were all coming back.

The hunger was lifting,
And filling with air,
A lightness ensued,
By a body touched bare.

Tingles and shivers,
Were felt once again,
Excitement and joy,
Were replacing the pain.

Love is so varied,
And can take many forms,
Touch and compassion,
Are calming my storms.

~ by Kristen