anniversary.

this week is the 6 year anniversary of me entering inpatient treatment for my eating disorder. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of nursing school. I typically try not to remember this anniversary but I have the app “timehop” and it showed me this picture:

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this is the sickest I ever was. I may not be skin and bones like many assume; but my eyes had broken blood vessels, my throat was raw, I had sores on my knuckles, I was pale, I fainted often, I cried everyday, I was severely depressed, and had horrible anxiety. I was throwing up the one meal I ate, and working out at least 3 hours a day.

my family knew I had an eating disorder for about a month. my mom talked to me about it sometimes. no one forced me to talk about it. I think they were scared of making it worse. one day I finally hit rock bottom when I was home alone and hadn’t actually digested a meal in 5 days. I ate a sandwich and threw it up, walked into the living room and woke up on the floor. I had fainted and hit my head on the fireplace brick, inches away from hitting some sharp brass fire tools. I wasn’t really hurt, just scared, and called my parents who didn’t answer, then my older sister and she cried. I finally realized what I was putting my body and my family through. the next day while painting the porch with my Mom, I casually said I was ready to get help and she hugged me and cried. we called Melrose that day.

when I had my assessment for treatment, I had no idea what to expect. they did labs, I filled out some questions on body image, and met with a woman and we talked about my current symptoms. I was shocked that within 5 minutes she was severely concerned about me and didn’t even want me to go back home. she wanted to admit me to the inpatient Eating Disorder floor that minute. I freaked out, called my Dad, and begged for one night to gather my clothes and talk to my parents. I promised to show up in the morning.

I had no idea what I was in for. no cell phone. therapy 3 times a day. nurses watching me pee so I wouldn’t throw up. meals so quiet I could hear the thoughts of other patients. and so so many pills. journaling, crying, gaining, forced eating, weigh-ins, panic attacks, more crying. I thought it would never end. I had to beg them to let me out after 2 weeks so I could go on my yearly family vacation. when I returned it was 4 more weeks of “partial” treatment where I was at Melrose for 8 hours a day. it was exhausting. but it worked. I stopped using symptoms. I returned to school a new, healthy woman.

6 years later and dozens of relapses I still go to Melrose several times a month. eating disorders are hard as hell to get rid of. but I promised myself I will never get back to that place where it controlled my life. I have learned to manage my anxiety better, to reach out more, to be kinder to myself. it’s a work in progress. I hope one day this eating disorder won’t have such a grip on me and let me be free. one day at a time.

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beliefs.

it’s been awhile since I’ve written on here. I’ve been struggling to decide if I want to, if it’s too much of me to put out there. there are parts of me I don’t want to share. that feel too dark, vulnerable. but that’s the problem with mental illness… no one wants to talk about it. it’s so secret. and debilitating. and embarrassing. we hide it. from each other. from ourselves. so I will post about whatever the heck I want, because it’s real. and it helps me.

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today in therapy, we talked about my core beliefs. what has shaped who I am. what do I say over and over to myself to make me feel this way? why is my coping mechanism to put up walls and pretend I’m so tough? I sat there looking at her with my arms and legs crossed, oblivious to my body language. and she pointed out that this is how I live. I close myself off to people so they don’t see who I really am. I show people that I’m tough, that I don’t give a fuck. I swear, joke, laugh it off. I don’t let people in, I don’t show that I’m a mess. barely hanging on.

my core belief is explained so well in this quote from the book “The Circle” when the main character describes “the tear” which to me is depression, anxiety, my eating disorder: anything that gives you that ache inside. it tears you open and you try everything to sew it back up. “the tear. the tear was the madness of not knowing who would love you and for how long. it was not knowing that was the seed of madness, loneliness, suspicion, fear”. that is my core belief: ‘who would love me?’.

my therapist pointed out to me that in my life most things have come easy to me. I am smart, athletic, good with people, funny, pretty (that’s hard for me to even type). so when something doesn’t come easy I get irritated and anxious. so now as an adult, when nothing seems easy, I live in a constant state of anxiety wondering when the next thing will go wrong or overwhelm me. it’s a horrible way to live. I didn’t realize until today how babied I was and still am by my family. I haven’t appreciated it as much as I should. and I still expect more from them, to ask me how I am, to dig deeper.

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now I am thinking, how do I even be myself? I don’t think I have ever acted like my true self, without walls up. how do you become the person you are? will I like that Katie?

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pain.

I am depressed. the worst part? feeling it. the first time I was depressed I got to that numb phase very fast. this time I feel everything. the sadness, emptiness, anxiety, loneliness, shame. the days are long and dark and the thought of getting up and doing it again tomorrow is scary and exhausting.

I hate how we don’t talk about it in our society. I hate how we hide it. that makes it so much worse. so much more painful. we try to fix it ourselves, fake that smile, pretend nothing is wrong. until one day you can’t get out of bed. and you cry over stupid things like a lightbulb burning out. the rebuilding is so hard. it makes every task in life seem impossible. one 8 hour work day is a marathon.

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I went to therapy this week. I try to go once a month. we tried to figure out what sparked my depression this time. I was doing well. new job, new apartment, dating. the difficulty of not feeling well for 6 months has caught up to me, and not having answers why is difficult. the surgery did help the pain a lot. I deal with nausea every day. it’s debilitating. and dealing with death at my job has been really hard too. as a nurse in the Cancer Center, we often have several patients pass away every week. we get so close to our patients, we see them so much, we become like a family. 3 weeks ago one of our closest patients died, and I was taking care of her the day before. and because I cared about her so much I couldn’t even recognize that she was actively dying. I just kept telling myself she would be ok. I didn’t even say goodbye. the next day I showed up and she had passed away early that morning. I was devastated.

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My therapist and I talked about it for a while and came to the understanding that this type of nursing gives me a unique look at the world. it gives me a more meaningful lease on life as I see how many are lost. and it reminds me how short life is and to live to the fullest. I know the true meaning in ‘goodbye’. it is heartbreaking and it is real. my therapist said “if you decide to love you have to be able to deal with the loss”. she said I should take heart that in my patient’s final days, I looked past her cancer diagnosis and treated her with dignity as a human being and loved her and made her comfortable. that is the best I can do.

I get in this mindset that I don’t ‘deserve’ to have pain. I compare my pain to others and tell myself that my problems are less important and I shouldn’t have negative emotions. the problem with that is- all humans have pain. and that pain is real to us. we can’t compare pain because our souls are different and we have different paths in life. unless you deal with your pain it will add weight to your soul and drag the sadness through your life. take life into your hands. that’s what I’m trying to do.

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what nursing has taught me.

I’ve only been a nurse for 4 years, but I have been taking care of people my whole life. I always care how people are feeling, and ask if I can do anything to help. I have two sides of my personality- my sincere loving side, and my sarcastic aggressive side. I believe this makes me a better nurse. Being a nurse is exhausting. I tell people that I use up all my compassion in my 8 hours at work, so on my lunch break and after 5pm I’m sassy. I need these two sides of me because if I was in my “nurse personality” all day, I couldn’t survive in real life. I would be bogged down, sad, and overwhelmed. I need to be able to shrug things off and laugh about it. so, in honor of nurse’s week, here is what I have learned in my 4 short years. I have 40 more years to go, and probably a lot more to add to this list…

1. it’s ok to cry when something hurts
2. sometimes you will be pushed to your breaking point and still need to give more
3. when a patient is mean, remember that they don’t feel well and don’t hold it against them
4. patients die and it’s heartbreaking
5. patients get better and it’s life-affirming
6. you can make a difference
7. remember it is a team effort, you are not in this alone
8. you will see your coworkers more than your family and frinds combined
9. some patients will love you and remember you
10. some patients will hate you and remember you
11. saying “no” to an uncooperative patient is very difficult, but they need boundaries
12. speak up if you want to implement change
13. schedule days off or you will get burnt out
14. treat your patients as friends and they will become friends, treat them as patients and they will remain strangers
15. take care of your own body
16. sometimes you will get too close to a patient emotionally and when you lose them it will be devastating
17. you need to be able to wipe your tears away and move on to the next patient with a clear head
18. when you smile be sincere
19. when you reach out and hold the hand of a patient, be sincere
20. find someone you can vent to, and then GET OVER IT
21. never stop being a student, keep learning and keeping up to date with your craft
22. you will have great days- remember these
23. you will have horrible days- try to forget these
24. you will wonder why you became a nurse
25. you will be certain of the reason why, and thankful, that you became a nurse

the nurses I work with are some of the most amazing human beings on the planet. and they make me want to be a better person. I am so lucky to learn from them and battle cancer on a daily basis.

HAPPY NURSE WEEK!

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healing.

I became a nurse to heal others.
I became a nurse because in college I didn’t know how to heal myself.
I saw an opening to try to break out of my eating disorder, depression, anxiety by helping others get better.
What I learned (the hard way) is that you cannot effectively heal others if you aren’t healed yourself.
I was scattered. ineffective. overwhelmed.

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Times like these when I get to a low point, I try to remind myself of that time. of how long it took me to get out of that hole. that it wasn’t just me I was hurting. that I almost didn’t make it out alive.

“if you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise” -rupi kaur

Having an eating disorder is a LIFELONG battle. while I may not always be using symptoms (purging, restricting, over-exercising), the thoughts are ALWAYS there. it is exhausting. while an alcoholic can try to avoid situations where alcohol is served, a bulimic has to eat 3 meals a day. 3 times a day I have to overcome the anxiety not to purge. I have to go to social situations and parties and stay calm under pressure. there is not enough therapy or self-help books in the world to manage this stress.

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Since I graduated from college I had been doing well managing my ED until recently. as a result, I gained a lot of weight. my therapist told me this is because I am so scared of getting sick again that I did basically the total opposite than my first relapse. I stopped working out and playing hockey because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to stop. I stopped managing portions- if I wasn’t counting my “tallies” then I wasn’t in the program and I wasn’t sick anymore, right? I stopped going to therapy. I stopped talking about it. I had PTSD about going to Melrose even for a check in. I was overwhelmed seeing the cafeteria, that scale, those exam tables, the group therapy rooms, my inpatient bed. I had panic attacks in the parking lot. Even driving on Excelsior Blvd in St. Louis Park makes my heart race. I still don’t understand why I feel this way. Melrose saved my life. I think that I’m scared- for good reason- of getting to that point. of needing that help. that healing. again.

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I think since getting sick this winter. and losing so much weight. my ED sparked in me again. the thoughts are so much louder. I don’t use symptoms nearly as much as I did in college, but more than I have in years. and I’m scared. scared the thoughts will get louder and take over again.

so now I begin to heal myself. read my books. journal. reach out. take a walk. call my mom. play hockey. see my therapist.

sometimes, on a bad day, it feels like too much. but I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. and hopefully one day this will be just be a memory and no longer my story.

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bloom.

I’ve been going through a funk.
I’ve spent so many days not feeling well. not feeling myself.
I’ve forgotten who I am.
I’ve gotten lost in sleep and pain and work.

I don’t know how to get out.

I have expectations for myself for how I want to live. I want to be a good nurse. a good friend, sister, daughter, coach. I want to be the stranger who holds the door open, who offers a helping hand. I want to write inspiring blogs. I want to have deep conversations with my friends. I want to travel. I want to be the hockey coach who makes a difference in a young girls life. I want to read books and articles. I want to go for walks and ride my bike. I want to go on adventures with my mom. I want to smile again and mean it.

My best friend Mary Margaret just understands me, she knows (all the way from New York) when I need a kind word. for my birthday she sent be a book of poetry by Rupi Kaur. the note with it says “Happy Birthday to love, healing, and a new year”. I opened the book to a page in the middle and read this and cried, so fitting:

stay strong through your pain
grow flowers from it
you have helped me
grow flowers out of mine so
bloom beautifully
dangerously
loudly
bloom softly
however you need
just bloom

thank God for friends who love you when it’s hard to love yourself

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time.

we waste time. we lose time. we try to save up time. we run out of time. we worry about time that has already happened. we worry about time that hasn’t happened yet. all while time is going on and we aren’t even living it.

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the past 2 weeks while recovering from surgery, having an abundance of time, has made me think a lot. as a nurse I’m always on my feet, there is always something to do, someone to help. when I have spare time, say 2 weeks off work to “heal”- I don’t know what to do with myself. watching 3 seasons of ER isn’t exactly my cup of tea (although it was fun). most of my time is spent at my jobs-nursing and coaching. but when I’m not at work- where would my time be best spent? am I making the most of my time?

we live in such a busy world, we run from place to place doing errands. we multitask to try to save time up. I have seen so many of my cancer patients run out of time. we spend our time texting and tweeting instead of spending physical time with our loved ones.

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I don’t think we realize that time is our best gift. we don’t know how much we have of it. we never know when the last time we will see our loved ones. time is so pure. use your time wisely and be present. tell your friends you appreciate them. tell your mom you love her. read a book, read 10 books. walk around the lake. take pictures. sit at the table when you eat, and actually taste your food. travel. buy yourself something nice. PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! take a nap. go for a quiet drive. make a homemade meal. listen to some music.

don’t waste your time. spend your time doing things you will want to remember in 50 years on your death-bed. or if, God-forbid, your time comes early, I hope you can sit there on your hospice bed and think to yourself “I didn’t waste a damn moment”.

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support.

in the midst of my chaotic life, I have never felt so supported.

I have amazing family, friends, coworkers, teammates.

I get texts, calls, emails, and facebook messages daily wishing me well. I get smiles, hugs, and encouragement at work when I don’t feel well. My parents cook me meals and offer to do my errands. My whole extended family helped me move apartments last weekend. My coworkers donated vacation time because I didn’t have enough for my surgery.

I want to thank you for this. This support keeps me going.

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However, this is only half the support you need in life. the other half must come from within. the only way you grow, sustain, live, and breathe is from pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself. this comes from years of lessons, of pain, of tears, and of struggle. it comes from not having support of others at times. it comes from needing more support from others at times.

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The hardest part for me is accepting the support. I am a very stubborn person and try to do things on my own, even when everyone can see I need help. I push myself too hard and often fail before asking for help, this is just the way I am. Sometimes I dig myself into such a deep hole that I can’t even tell I need help and someone needs to literally shake me into realizing the situation.

Know your limits. Hopefully those closest to you know your limits too. Be honest with yourself. You aren’t perfect. Don’t set unrealistic expectations on yourself. Ask for help if you need it. I am willing to bet many of your friends are sitting there waiting to help you. We alone are responsible for the energy and positivity we put out in the world and it comes from within. if what we are putting out isn’t up to par the world won’t change.

my motto is “team work makes the dream work” -John Maxwell. we need to work together to change anything. but remember, you are an important part of that team. find the support you need to change this world. this world needs you.

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the edge.

I feel like I’m getting close to the edge.

The edge of falling back into my eating disorder symptoms.
The edge of wanting control of everything but living in constant chaos.
The edge of anxiety and depression and anger and fear.
The edge of shutting everyone out but begging for someone to help.

I told myself in 2010 when I left inpatient treatment that I would never get to this place again. but I never imagined living with unrelenting nausea and abdominal pain that would cause me to lose 50 pounds in three months.

The weight loss has given me that rush again. The inability to eat because of nausea has masked itself as restriction in my eating disorder brain. When I actually do get to eat, I am not used to the feeling of being full and I can’t tolerate it. I’ve purged three times this week. and I know I’m close to the edge of falling back into my bulimia because I tell myself, “you throw up all the time from being sick, it’s the same thing”. Even though I know it’s not at all.

I’m having surgery in 12 days to hopefully fix my stomach issue. The doctor isn’t sure it will resolve the problem but it needs to be done anyway. What if it doesn’t work and I get sicker? What if I have a complication in my recovery? in the back of my mind, a worse thought, what if the surgery works and I can eat again? Will I be ok or will I fall back into old ways?

Since graduating highschool in 2007 I had several moments where I was close to the edge of either having it all or losing it all. here’s a brief timeline:

11.2007- first serious boyfriend
7.2010- eating disorder treatment
5.2011- college graduation
12.2011- first serious breakup
1.2012- first nursing job
4.2013- first time living on my own
6.2013- medical issues ruined my summer
9.2014- new nursing job
11.2014- current medical issues

I feel like I’ve tried really hard to not let my past define me. to not let my past determine my present. but it has shaped who I have become. I am a better nurse because I’ve been a patient. I’m a better listener because I want to be heard. I’m a better friend because I know what it’s like to be lonely. I don’t want to fall off the edge. I guess the first step is realizing you are about to slip.

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stress.

Heart racing. Palms sweating. Tightness in my chest. Thoughts racing. Deep breath. Count to ten.

This week has been so tough. I’m exhausted and sick. Work is busy. The hockey team I coach has playoffs this weekend. Started a new study group for my oncology nurse certification. Worried about my surgery coming up. I feel like the walls are closing in.

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Stress surrounds us. We can plan on it always being around, but not what level it will be.

You know those days where you try your best to please everyone, but you somehow end up being the bad guy? That was today. As a nurse I’m used to seeing people at their worst and dealing with conflict. Today, although I handled it as best I could, it just shook me. In 99.9% of situations I will bend over backwards for a patient, but today I just wanted to hear a “please” and “thank you”. I was so bitter. and now I feel horrible. I feel horrible for not having empathy in that moment, for not getting over myself, for not putting myself in his shoes. I feel like my stress got the better of me.

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I used to bottle up my stress until one day I would blow up. I wouldn’t tell anyone my problems. I am a great listener and sometimes carry around the pain of others. I just want everyone to be happy. and if it takes me being stressed for my friend to be happy, that’s ok with me.

Now I am working on letting my friends know if I am having issues. and why I started this blog. and why I go to therapy regularly.

If you let your stress, anger, sadness, or pain build up it eats away at your soul. It takes away precious moments of your life that could be spent with loved ones, playing with a puppy, or watching a sunset.

Strong mental health is key in maintaining good physical health. We need to depend on each other to make this work. If your coworker responds to “how are you?”, with “ok” or “fine”… don’t end the conversation. Take a damn minute to dig deeper and ask her about her life. She might be begging someone to break down her walls. She might just need to vent for five minutes.

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Sometimes all I need is someone to tell me I didn’t do anything wrong, that I’m not crazy, that I’m going to be okay. Sometimes in the moment when it feels like the world is falling apart, you just need a friend to hug you and make you feel like you still matter to someone. It’s so hard to feel like you make a difference in this huge world.

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scars.

Everyone has scars. Physical scars from accidents. Emotional scars from traumas. Stretch marks from these wonderful bodies we have lived and grown in. Beauty marks and moles we are born with. Tattoos of pictures we love and ink on our skin. Painful memories burned in our minds we will never forget.

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Everyone has a story. Some hide it and carry it with them. Others decide to share this pain, this real honest life, with the world.

I have decided to share the pain.

My pain used to be so much baggage. Some days it was a light duffel bag, others it was like a 60 pound hiking pack. This blog is my escape. I do it for myself. Sharing it in a public way had taken the shame away from my eating disorder, my depression, my anxiety. I feel like a normal human being again.

Everyone has a story. You never know what another person is battling inside. Be Kind. Strangers don’t typically tell you if they have cancer, or if a love one just died. The pain can be so unbearable that even a mean look from a stranger at a coffee shop can ruin a day. Understand that your actions can affect someone, in a positive or negative way.

Don’t let your story determine who you are. Don’t let your past become your present. Don’t let your old scars become new wounds. Find someone to talk to. Let go of some baggage. Don’t worry about “unloading” it on somebody, because there are a ton of great friends out there who love to listen and want to help you. We only get one life. Don’t you want it to be the best damn life ever? So let’s do it. Scars and all.

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love.

yesterday was Valentine’s day. I spent all day in bed.
oh, I had plans. my body was just not cooperating.

It’s been over 2 months of doctor’s saying they don’t know whats wrong with me, and living in pain everyday, it messes with my mind. Yesterday it caught up to me. I had a mini pity-party. Took a couple of pain pills. Then I started reflecting. I reflected on how lucky I am to have access to health care, pain medicine, and an amazing support system of family and friends. I thought about Valentine’s day. I looked through facebook at all the pictures of couples and how happy they are. I wasn’t bitter. I’m single but I am happy. For the first time in my life I have found love within myself.

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What I have learned recently is to live a life with more compassion for others, you will live a more fulfilling life.  Smile at someone, take a minute out of your day to help a man find the elevator, help the disabled man put cream in his coffee. First of all- it’s good karma. But second, showing love to others is the first step in showing more love to yourself.

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I know I’ve said this before, but DO NOT change who you are. You are beautiful just the way you are. If you are single, someone will find you who loves every piece of you. If you are with someone who doesn’t appreciate you- it’s time to move on. There are so many people in your life who love you because you are YOU. Keep being you. We love you.

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nursing.

I cried with my patient today.

We sat there hugging. Crying. In shock.

Weeks left? Months? No. No way.

Not after all the chemo. All the radiation. All the pills.

Once and awhile, a patient will get so close to my heart, it feels as if we are going through the journey together.
She is one of those patients.
And today hurts. So bad.

A nurse blogger Kati Kleber wrote an article on NurseEyeRoll.com called: “I Wish I Could Cry With You, But I Cant”. She wrote that nurses can’t cry with their patients because they have to continue their job after, moving on to other patients and complex situations. However, she explains, that she personally feels extreme empathy for her patients.

Brene Brown explains, “Empathy is a choice, a vulnerable choice, to connect with something inside ourselves that knows a specific feeling.”

Personally, I can cry with my patient in the moment, then gather myself and move on to my next patient. I still hold the sadness in my heart, but my mind can make clear decisions I’m a very emotional person. I feel things really deeply. I make strong connections. It’s a weakness and a strength.

This is why today I realized I am 100% meant to be an oncology nurse. and SO damn grateful this path lead me to an amazing job, with amazing coworkers, taking care of amazing patients.

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To think that on a patient’s worse day of their life, I have the opportunity to take away even .001% of that pain. I want to try to do that. and I won’t hide my emotions. I am who I am. I am a nurse. I am here to take care of you. I am here to get you better.

I cried with my patient today.
And it’s keeping me up tonight.

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insecurity.

For most of my life I’ve been so scared that people won’t like me that I didn’t share my true personality. I would share the parts of me I thought others would like, and hide the parts that make me unique.

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As I’m getting older, I have started to care less about what people think about me. I don’t care that I swear, that I’m blunt, that I prefer sweats over jeans, natural skin over makeup, that I’m sarcastic. But there is so much that even my closest friends don’t know about me. That I care so much. almost too much. that I worry about people, my friends, my family, my patients, the kids I coach. if you tell me something personal I won’t forget it, and think about it often, hoping you are doing okay. I feel like I put a lot of effort into some relationships and often don’t get as much back. I put myself out there. I risk getting hurt. I am so thankful I’m a nurse. I know there will always be someone to take care of. but in the back of my mind, I’m looking for someone to take care of me.

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I’m known as a strong person, a tough hockey player, a rock. but I am really so sensitive. My sisters know this about me. I remember being younger and crying about something and my older sister telling me to not take things so personally. I just can’t help it. I hold onto things forever. I forgive, I don’t hold grudges, but I never forget.

I read a quote yesterday that says, “that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say: they think everyone else does too.” 99% of the time I mean what I say, I think quickly and usually never regret what I say. people who “know” me would probably agree with this. Which makes it hard for me to believe that people don’t think before they speak, especially during an emotional conversation. words hurt people.

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Don’t worry about what people think about you. Be yourself- show every part of you, even the parts you think are ugly. People who care about you will love your ugliness too. Open yourself up to real relationships. Life is too short to waste time pretending to be someone you are not. Like Damian from the movie Mean Girls says to Cady… “Own It”.

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awareness.

Ruby Wax says in a TED talk “this disease (mental illness) comes with a package: shame. When any other part of your body gets sick, you get sympathy”.

FEBRUARY is Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

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there are walks sponsored all over the US by the NEDA (national eating disorder association). there are events on facebook. news articles. it’s everywhere.

sometimes it makes me bitter that there is an “awareness” month, like YES I’M AWARE! very aware how much I have an ED. but this is for you.

Be aware of how you treat others, the way you talk to them, the way you compliment others (or don’t), the way you judge them.

Be aware of your self-image, how positive are you to yourself? this is one area I am working on daily. I try to remind myself that if I don’t love myself first I wouldn’t be able to fully love others. It starts from within.

Be aware of the media. How many of the top news stories are about a celebrities new hair style? or how much weight she has gained or lost. does this have an impact on how you view your body?

Be aware that in the US up to 24 million men and women suffer from an eating disorder. and only 10% will ever get treatment.

Be aware that eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, ages, races, religions, and gender.

Be aware that you can make a difference in the life of a person with an eating disorder, with a kind word, with a donation, with a prayer, with a smile.

understand

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adulting (verb).

Adulting (verb): the process of becoming an adult; by failing, with the help of others, or through self discovery. 

This weekend one of my best friends turned 26 and had a dinner party. Many of my friends since elementary school were there and we got into a conversation about our most influential teachers. We went to a Catholic school in Minneapolis that has an amazing creative arts program. I believe the teachers there made me the woman I am today, and I kick myself for never telling them that. We discussed how these teachers showed us how to grow up, how to study the right way, how to be individuals. They cared about us. They taught us more about life than about the Declaration of Independence. They took us aside and whispered words of confidence.

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I remember once in 8th grade during a class activity, when you stand up for what “side” you believe in, I was standing alone. I looked around but stayed standing, even though I felt alone and weird without my friends. My history teacher Ms. Murphy said in front of the whole class “Katie, I am proud of you for standing up for what you believe in, you are a strong woman”. She made me proud to have my own beliefs, and to this day I remember it and feel her kind words in my heart.

The best teachers I had pushed me harder than anyone else, because they believed in me, and I wanted to make them proud. I still do. They taught me that a whole and happy person is complete in mind, body, and spirit, and they fulfilled all those needs in our classroom. They taught us not to take shortcuts in life, to not cheat, to respect other people, and to respect ourselves.

They are the reason I coach hockey now, so I can try to make a difference. Yes I teach them a game, but I teach them about life too; how to work hard, never give up, and be part of a team. Even if I only change one life in the 50 girls I’ve coached so far, this world can be a better place. We complain about how horrible the world is, but some of us aren’t doing anything about it. We need to participate in the culture change! Get involved people! 

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So I challenge you to reflect on those who influenced you the most growing up. These are the people who made you who you are today. Did you thank them? Many of my favorite teachers have retired but I am trying to find out how I can mail them thank you cards.

I believe this world needs more “thank you’s”

So, thank you to my teachers, coaches, coworkers, friends, and family. I am so grateful. more than any thank-you note could never say.

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optimism.

I’m trying to be a more optimistic person. I think having anxiety in general tends to make you have a “worse case scenario” mindset. sometimes this is good for a nurse. not always the case when dealing with your own issues.

The past 2 months I have been dealing with some health problems, and it has shown me a small glimpse of the life my cancer patients live. the many doctors appointments, never feeling well enough to “go out”, xrays, labs, procedures, and then waiting for results. as I have seen them have “good days” and “bad days”, I have had those myself. on my good days I feel on top of the world. I can draw any lab/start any IV no matter how bad their veins are. I’m answering phones, rooming patients, hanging chemo, discharging, admitting, EVERYTHING! on my bad days- it feels like I’m living in hell; dizzy, sweaty, nauseous, abdominal pain. begging the phones not to ring. using every ounce of strength to make it until 430.

Some days I am really hard on myself, like “come on, Katie, these patients have CANCER. you just have a stomach ache. get your shit together!” other days, what I should be doing is giving myself a break. not everyone feels 100% all the time. no one expects me to be in top form when I’m not feeling well. I feel bad though, because I hate missing work. I hate sitting on the sideline. I just hate having issues. some days I would kill to be “normal”.

What I have come to learn though, and want to pass on is– what ever your problem is, it’s an important problem to you and it should be shared/acknowledged/taken care of.

don’t compare it to anyone else’s problems. in the grand scheme of life it may seem small, but your worth is not small. if there is something bothering you or taking over your thoughts, you need to tell someone. don’t let the shame eat away at you. if you feel like you don’t have someone in your life to share with, I am all ears. if you end up sharing and that person is mean- get rid of them. you don’t need that negativity in your life. see amazing quote below.

seuss

just some of my thoughts tonight as I recover from my endoscopy/colonoscopy earlier this morning. hoping for some answers soon for my stomach problems. thanks to my family/friends/coworkers for the amazing support through this stressful time. I appreciate the love so much! -kt

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