How my eating disorder fed off of my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 2)

As I sat in the busy cafeteria of my college, I chomped down my usual menu of a burgers, fries, and Dr. Pepper. Meanwhile, the cafeteria manager, who also was a friend of mine, sat down next to me at my table.  “Amanda,” she said, “I have been watching you eat the past couple of weeks, and I noticed that your diet consists of hamburgers, plates of fries and many cups of soda.” I nodded, as I shoved several French Fries in my mouth.  “I am worried about you,” She said, “You know that a healthy diet can be achieved even when you are eating on a meal plan.” As I swallowed my mouth full French fries and looked at the pile of plates stacked in front of me, I blushed with embarrassment and said, “I know what you mean, and I appreciate your concern. However, I just simply lost the taste for healthy food.” The manager then said, “Are you feeling okay? I noticed your voice sounds scratchy, and you look a little pale.” Then her cook called her away before I got a chance to answer.

The truth was I could feel myself getting sick with what I thought was a cold. For weeks I had been feeling tired. I thought that I just was being a busy college student and the semester was just weighing down on me.

A few weeks later I found myself sitting on the examination table as one of the school’s nurses wrote down a prescription for antibiotics for a sinus infection. A week later I felt like my old self. At the follow up appointment, the nurse said, “You need a blood draw to check for any sign of infection. While we are doing this blood draw we might as well do a full blood panel. And don’t eat anything after nine p.m. on the night prior to your appointment.”

The evening of my appointment the fear of fasting threw me into a binge. First, my friend and I stopped at Sonic and I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and drank a slushy. After that, we also attended church. For church dinner that night they offered a baked potato bar. I ate three large baked potatoes topped with sour cream, chili, and corn chips and washed them down with lemonade.

I survived the night with some tears and had my blood test done the following morning.

Then, two days later, as I waited for my results at the nurse’s office, I grabbed a copy of my school’s paper, The Corsair, off the newsstand. I opened to the article I had written, titled “Get your Barbeque on.” As I read about the downtown barbeque content, my stomach began to growl for breakfast.

The nurse called me back into an exam room. She pulled up my file on her computer and said, “I am concerned with these results because your triglycerides are on borderline high, and your weight is on the brink of being considered overweight.” As she reviewed my family’s history, she said, “I notice your mother’s health history; she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol….”

I did not hear the nurse talking after that, because I remembered the last time I told my mother I loved her. It was moments before she died from a heart attack, when I was just 16 years old.

“Amanda!” Are you listening?” the nurse said, as she interrupted me from my memory. I wiped away a tear and nodded. The nurse continued by saying, “Then lose the weight!”

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (part 1).

As I reluctantly looked in the mirror in my college bathroom,  I would glance at the toilet and back to the mirror, then back to the toilet, and then back to the mirror, as I pulled my long  blonde hair back into a ponytail.  Hurry up! Stick your fingers in your mouth! You’re fat! You binged again… If you would just throw up and lose a pound or two you would be prettier, and you would feel better! These were the thoughts that often went through my mind when I faced the mirror. I was depressed, lonely, and was downright unhappy. The truth was I was binge eating my feelings.

When I ate in the cafeteria, I mainly only ate cheeseburgers and French fries, then would go back for plate after plate of French fries – – and would wash it all down with Dr. Pepper!  Beyond that, I also stored snacks in my dorm room, such as chocolate pudding, pop tarts, ice cream, popcorn and cans of Ravioli. Consequently, the items from this menu only added more pounds and not only worsened my BDD, but also increased my desire to sometimes purge.

At that time, I remember trying on my favorite pair of jeans and could barely zip them up.  I thought to myself either the washer or the dryer at my school has made my jeans shrink, or I have gained weight. Either way, I need new clothes. When I visited my grandparents the following weekend, my grandpa commented that I had put on a few pounds. That’s when I realized that the college’s washer or dryer were not to blame.

Later that day, my grandma offered to take me to Walmart to buy me some new jeans. Because I was a poor college student, I was thankful for this gift.

When we arrived at Walmart, and were looking at some jeans, a female sales associate approached us and asked if she could help.

My grandma then said to the sales associate, “When she was at Pensacola State College she didn’t gain weight, and now that she is at The University of West Florida she has put on weight and we don’t know what size to get her.”  As I stood there listening to those words, I felt ashamed of my body. Looking back at this memory I realized that comments from my grandmother, friends and other family members attributed my eating disorder and BDD. As I stood there feeling hot from embarrassment, the female associate turned to a male co-worker who was standing nearby stocking shelves, “Just ignore this.”  Then she eyed me up and turned to my grandma and said, “She does have a nice figure despite her gaining the freshmen 15. I would try the next size up from her current jeans.” I fought back tears as my BDD turned the freshmen 15 into the freshmen 100 in my mind.

After I tried on a few pairs, and as I stood l there not wanting to look at myself in the mirror because of my BDD, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t get a hold of this problem it would continue to spiral out of control.

Disclaimer: If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek professional medical care.

The Pandemic and My Hurt Tooth

This Pandemic has been all over the news and I have been having some anxiety. One of the ways that I deal with anxiety is I clinch and grind my teeth at night.  On the 22 of March, I bit into my night guard hard. It hurt and I had a concern that I had broken my tooth.  I really didn’t want to increase my chances of catching the virus by visiting the dentist. I waited a few days to see if the pain would subside. It didn’t. I made the brave decision to go to the dentist.

On the 25, when I got to the office, there were only a few cars in the parking lot. My grandpa decided to wait in the car until I was ready to check out. When I approached the door there was a large sign that read: Knock to be let in. This was due to the pandemic.

Once I checked in at the front desk, I was given paperwork to fill out. I looked around at the small lobby. It was empty.  Because of my visual impairment I had to ask for assistance to help me fill out the paperwork.

As I was filling out the paperwork I was so scared; I was shaking because not only was I fearful of catching the  Corona virus, but I was also fearful of having to get extensive dental work that would be accompanied by a large bill. The dental hygienist was kind to me, as she explained what would happen during the procedure.

When the dentist came in, he appeared to be already dressed in his Covid-19 attire, which included a thick gown, gloves and a mask.

He seemed rushed to get on with the exam. He didn’t really introduce himself. He just quickly asked me to open my mouth, and then he looked with a mirror and a poky tool. He told me that my tooth wasn’t broken; however, I needed to see my orthodontist because my teeth shifted. To keep your teeth from further damage, I also needed a new night guard and a new retainer.

Since I also suffer from body image disorder, my heart sank because I felt ugly due to the change in my teeth.

That same day I tried to make an appointment to see my orthodontist. However, due to the pandemic, he would not be available for consultation until May. But I was able to see a technician at his office, who gave me a new retainer.  The technician didn’t really have any advice to give me to help with my clenching and grinding other than to get a new night guard from Walmart. This advice added to my anxiety because I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my orthodontist until May.

When I went to Walmart to buy another night guard, I noticed how the people moved quickly and seemed standoffish.  Interestingly enough, the shelfs in Walmart were filled of supplies even though the shelf’s in other stories in my area were empty due panic buying because of the pandemic.  I grabbed my guard, checkout and went home.

A few days later, I have learned that by not watching as much news on the pandemic the anxiety I have felt has gotten better.  I hope that the pain will go away even further were I will not have to see my orthodontist in May.  How are you coping with anxiety during this time?

The Time I Overcame

This is a new story series! The Time I overcame…. The first story comes from Ailsa.  I hope everyone likes this new series. Take it away, Ailsa.

Hi everyone, I am Ailsa, and I am the proud owner of Brains on Wheels. Brains on Wheels is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences surrounding my disabilities. I would like to thank Amanda for letting me write for her blog…

Today I would like to talk about how proud I am to have achieved my English GCSE at a grade 3.

In England, we have an education system where people who are 14 – 16 take exams called GCSEs, which stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Genually, pupils around 16 years of age take their GCSEs. As far as I am aware, and in my experience, most GCSEs consist of coursework and exams. Some have more than one piece of coursework, some have more than one exam. It all depends on the subject

In June 2013, I took my GCSEs. I took all of the core (required) subjects; English, Mathematics, ICT (I got the highest grade in ICT), and combined Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I chose to take one other subject: Health and Social Care. I sat each exam, I have double the amount of time to complete each paper. Everything went well in my exams, I am proud of my grades.

For the English exam, there were three components to make up the final grade; Controlled Assessments, also known as coursework, Speaking and Listening, and one written paper. I did all three parts.

In all my exams, I am aloud up to 100% extra time because it takes me longer to read and get my thoughts written down. I am also entitled to a reader, a scribe (writer) and rest breaks. It took me about five hours to complete my English exams! I made it! From analysing and comparing texts, to writing a short narrative, I did the lot. Five hours later, I was absolutely exhausted!

Then came Results Day. I went all the way back to my senior school, which was Portchester Community School to collect my GCSE results. When I arrived, first of all I had a quick natter with my friends, and met up with the LSA I had helping over the five years I was at the school. I took my results envelop and opened it… All of my results were as expected, apart from one subject: English.

Back then GCSE grades went from A* (which was the highest) to the lowest grade of G. U was ungraded.

I was predicted to get a D in English at school. When I looked at my English grade, the paper said that I got a G. On the paper, it had the grade broken down into three sections: Coursework, the Speaking and Listening, and the exam. I had marks for the coursework and the Speaking and Listening exam, but they had my result for the paper marked as 0!

I was so upset with this! English has always been one of my strongest subjects and to go through this was horrible. After a lot of conversations between my mum, school, the exam board and I, we found out that the exam board had lost the paper with my answers written on. We were all incredibly angry about this. The rules say that if the exam boards lose someone’s paper, they have to give the candidate their predicted grade. The exam board announced that they had “found” my paper and gave me an F. To this day, all of us think that they never found my paper, and they didn’t want to give me my predicted grade, so they just picked any old grade to give me.

Anyway, when I was about to start, the staff at my college (UK) said that if I didn’t get a grade C or above, they would help me to get a higher grade. I can’t remember when, but when I asked about re-sitting my English GCSE, they refused to give me the opportunity on the grounds that I wasn’t working at the appropriate level. They also said that I “wouldn’t be able to cope” in a mainstream class, even though I went through mainstream schools. This made me extremely angry, and even more determined to prove them wrong.

We made a deal that if I passed Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, I could then re-sit my GCSE. Functional Skills English has never been practical for me because the writing part has to either be hand-written or typed on a computer. Even though I am able to use a computer with my feet, when I get stressed or emotional, my mussels refuse to function effectively. As a result, I couldn’t type very well or quickly and before I knew it, my time was up. Straight away I knew that I didn’t write enough to pass. I took this exam twice, and the second time around, I passed!

They finally allowed me to join a GCSE English class after passing Level 1. I did well in the classes, but the college still would not let me take the GCSE. I took the class for two or three years before I was allowed to take the exam. I watched lots of other students; my peers gearing up for their exams, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taking the exam with them.

By the time I was put in to do the GCSE English exam, in 2018, the system had changed completely. The grades changed from A* to G, to 1 to 9. I had to learn a new set of skills for this exam, which wasn’t that bad, but it was still annoying. I was just lucky that I had a fantastic teacher!

The good thing about the exam changing is that it was a shorter exam. I still got double the time take the written exam, but because it was shorter, it was easier. I still did the Speaking and Listening exam with the same amount of time as the rest of the people doing this exam though.

When I came out of my last exam, I was so excited and proud of myself for doing it that I screamed at the top of my lungs. One of the things that I said was “in your face!”, I know that was a bit childish, but I don’t really care because I waited so long to do it. I just want to thank the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to do this. It really was an amazing feeling!

It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and you should never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you want something that much, you should fight for it!

Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my achievement! Feel free to visit my blog, subscribe and follow me on Social Media…

Brains on Wheels (blog) – http://ailsas.wixsite.com/brainsonwheels

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How I’m coping with the COVID-19 virus

I have seen and heard many reports about the COVID-19 virus that is spreading over the world. I feel sorry for what has been happening and I have been praying for a cure for some time.

So far things are normal for me. I am continuing to write and think of new ideas as I stay at home to help do my part in fighting the virus.

I feel that keeping busy has helped me with the anxiety I have been feeling about the pandemic. I been keeping myself occupied by reading An Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor. In addition to that, I have been keeping up with my blog posts, edited my book, and producing my YouTube videos.

In my spare time, I have been watching a variety of shows on Netflix. I have been watching a lot of cartoons from Looney Tunes to Garfield.

I have been doing my regular chores, such as laundry, dishes, and yardwork.

Whenever I get anxious about the virus, I find that talking with friends on social media helps to alleviate it. My anxiety is more heighten at nighttime for some reason. To help with this, I play rainstorm sounds on my Alexa device, and I run my essential oil diffuser.  I love the scent of lavender; it helps me get a good night’s sleep.

If we all pull together and do our parts, hopefully we will be successful in this fight against this virus.

What have you been doing to keep yourselves busy while we are told to stay home?

 

Three tips to help improve handwriting

March is Cerebral Palsy awareness month. I have seen parents on many social media platforms raise concern about how Cerebral Palsy can affect their children’s handwriting. To help raise awareness, here is three tips to help improve your little one’s handwriting:

  1. Pick a teaching curriculum that is easy to follow and easy to teach. When I was going through Physical and Occupational Therapy, I was taught two different methods of handwriting. One was taught through the school system and one was taught at the local military base where I lived in Texas at the time. Because I was already used to the one from the school system, the other method I learned at the military base confused me. As a result, I ended up using the HandWriting WithOut Tears method from my Occupational Therapist at my local school. That method was easy for me to learn.

2. Strengthening hand muscles! I loved this activity when I was a child. Because having strong muscles is a key in improving handwriting, they used this play activity to help improve my muscle strength in my hands. I had to do other activities such as stretching a rubber band and playing with jumping plastic frogs. I found that these activities were some of my favorites.  Even though my Physical and Occupational Therapy stopped when I was around 14, They told to continue to keep my hand muscles tight by working with either TherapyPuddy Or Playdoh 😊

3. Stay positive and practice. This is the most important piece of advice that I can give. When I entered the sixth grade, my Occupational Therapist and my mother decided to stop teaching me to write in cursive. Their reason was because my handwriting did not improve like they hoped. I was only taught, in cursive, how to write my signature.

My printing is much better than cursive.  After that year, I worked on Typing. I have found reports stating that the Therapist was doubtful that I would ever be a good typist. During my senior year of high school, I started having problems taking notes. I experienced hand cramps and a lot of pain. To combat this, they gave a small keyboard to take notes. This enabled me to type the notes I needed.  At my last typing test, I typed 97 words per minute. Not too bad for someone who was told that they would never be able to type. As far as the cursive goes, I pushed myself with that too. With the help of my low vision teacher, and a positive attitude, I was able to learn all my letter and my handwriting has improved. Don’t give up on your child. Keep positive and you will see some amazing results.

Nothing in this post is sponsored in any way. This post is based off my own childhood memories and experiences. If you are concerned about your child’s handwriting or health, please speak with the proper medical professionals.

2020: More Courage, Self-Control, and Joy-February Edition

February was filled with lots of tears. Some of them were due to sadness, anger, uncertainty and joy. However, one thing I know for sure is that God was with me through every step of the way. In early February things between a good friend of mine and me broke down. This person hurt my feelings and I became very angry with what happened. I had to remind myself that I had to have courage to continue working on my business no matter what happened. I was very worried, and I even had physical symptoms that were alarming to me. Luckily, I had a lot of support from my friends. It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” My friends did just that; they kept reminding me to continue to work and that God wanted me to continue working.

It took a lot of self-control for me to calm down from this situation. My friends are so loving, and they reminded me that getting angry would only make things worse. Once I was calmer, I was able to see what went wrong and I was able to move on with joy.

Another reason there were so many tears this month was I had a lot of uncertainty. I was waiting on Vocational Rehabilitation to update my laptop. I had heard many horror stories about how some laptops had updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and they stopped working. I was praying that this would not be the case for me. I was getting worried because I know I was getting behind on some of my work due to my hard drive crashing and my laptop still running Windows 7. Does God not say that he will supply us of our needs? Indeed, he does. In Philippians 4:19,”…And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given in us in Christ Jesus.” Vocational Rehabilitation knew of my situation and acted quickly. Now I am happy to report that my laptop has been updated and is working much better.

Lastly, on the 25th of February my heart was full of grief, on that day, 15 years ago, my mother passed away.  My heart will always ache because I miss my mother. But on this day my heart also sang with joy. For those of you who don’t know, since my mother’s passing, I live with my loving and supportive grandpa. It says in James 1:27, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles and refuse to let the world corrupt us.” My grandpa has continued to do what the verse implies. He has helped supply me with my basic needs and more. To help say thank you for all the support he has given me all these years I treated him to lunch at a local restaurant. My grandpa had red beans and rice and I had catfish. We had dessert too. Ice cream always hits the spot after a great meal.

Speaking of joy, I was able to enjoy a shopping spree with my friend this past Friday.😊

How was February for you? What brought you joy? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Please note: Bible verses come from the TruthQuest New Living Translation Inductive Student Bible.