A few months into my third year of private practice, I am reflective and grateful for the gifts I have been given since I opened my doors in August 2010. The courage, resiliency, and hope that is experienced and shared by my clients strikes me each and every day as I walk with them on their journeys. The professional colleagues and mentors that support me, offer me consultation and their expertise, and encourage me with a new perspective when I might feel stuck — I am so grateful for you! Kate Daigle Counseling is thriving and and growing and I could not do this alone! I’m eager and excited for what 2013 brings and am looking forward to offering support, hope, and empathy to those who are taking steps to make their lives as happy and healthy as they can be. I am offering a special discount for new clients in January and am pleased to offer two new workshops in the beginning of 2013. More details? Contact Kate!
Our nation has experienced a challenging year and as 2012 draws to an end, I hold in my heart those who are in pain, who have lost a loved one this year, who are in recovery from a mental health concern, or who are coping with difficult events. I stand encouraged that in the wake of tragedy, we come together with love and hold each other up. We are our each other’s greatest healers.
As we welcomed the arrival of autumn on September 22nd, we opened a new chapter of crisp fall air, changing colors, brisk mornings, and harvest dinners. This is what fall is all about and for many, it brings an inner comfort and a desire to snuggle under the blankets with a big cup of hot tea. What else does autumn represent? As each season passes, I am always mindful of the gifts from the outgoing season and the promises of the one yet to come. As nature cycles through her natural patterns, humans and all animals alike take notice of this change.
Change is embraced by some and feared by others. When one is in recovery from an eating disorder such as bulimia, binge eating, anorexia, or any other type of disordered eating, change can bring overwhelming anxiety as it suggests a shift in an all-too-familiar routine. I often sit with clients and hold space for them to share these anxieties, excitements, worries, and anticipations of upcoming changes in their lives. I like to remember that with every change comes a loss as well as a new birth. Moving into a new home is a significant change in someone’s life, bringing new things to adjust to, new neighbors, new routines. Going back to school similarly offers some “unknowns”, some uncertainties of what is yet to come which might feel unsettling for some. A birth of a new child is a huge shift in a family, as the child is welcomed into the fold and the parents adjust to new responsibilities, expectations, and roles.
If you feel stuck in a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging, negative self talk that devastates your self-esteem, or any other type of harmful behavior, you might be ready to make a change in your life. Clients bring with them this hope for change, for a life without self-destructive behaviors or thoughts, and with a hope for accepting and loving themselves. They can also admit to some fears about what they might have to “give up” or “confront” when making this change. This is completely normal! Just as fall eventually turns into winter, a time of hibernation and reflection, change is inevitable — and it can feel simple to slip into a mindset of “dreading” or “avoiding” change.
I try to remind my clients (and myself, if I find myself getting stuck), that winter has its own gifts to offer and that spring will come again. While some may see winter as a time of cold and darkness, you also might approach winter as a time of rejuvenation, slowing down, resting, and preparing for the birth of spring. A new routine, a different way of approaching and caring for yourself, trying to accept your feelings instead of push them away — these all represent change in our lives. And instead of focusing on what is wrong about them, perhaps we could ask ourselves to notice the benefits of this change and remind ourselves that a re-birth is yet to come, whatever that looks like for each of us.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself about your relationship to change in your life:
— What am I losing in this change, and how can I offer myself kindness and compassion around this?
— What am I gaining with this change in terms of growth, healing, and self-care?
— How can I be mindful about this change, and check in with myself daily around my feelings about it and try to remind myself of the gifts of the present moment?
Don’t forget to turn your attention inward and notice your emotions around this transition. New beginnings, like autumn or any new beginning in your life, might bring up unresolved feelings or issues from previous life cycles. Perhaps autumn reminds you of a friendship that was lost last autumn which you haven’t allowed yourself to feel in some time. Maybe autumn brings the birthday of a child and each year you are reminded of the pure joy you felt the day he or she was born.
allow yourself to feel. Journal about what you feel, draw what you feel, sing what you feel, dance what you feel. There are no “good” or “bad” feelings, and like a wave in the ocean, each feeling will eventually ride out.
Nature allows us endless opportunities for healing, re-birth, renewal, and getting back in touch with ourselves. How are you going to embrace this new season in your life?
As I sit near the window in my office, I feel the first fall breeze of the year. Yes, I know it is not yet technically autumn, but it sure is on its way. September just began, and to me this signifies the blossoming of my favorite season — full of rich smells, pumpkin pies, cinnamon lattes, crunchy auburn leaves, and an array of aspen trees shimmering in color. I welcome this time of year because it signifies a new chapter…almost a slowing down and relaxing time after a hot and hectic summer.
I am a believer in the visceral and powerful impact of scents. Have you ever smelled something and were immediately taken back to a childhood memory coupled with an intense emotional feeling? That is not all in your head; there is evidence that our noses can be directly linked to our memory bank and when we smell a certain scent, we might recollect a memory or an experience that had been long forgotten. This power is ever-present for me during autumn. Autumn boasts the richest, most soothing, most affecting smells of all year round. As the earth prepares for the winter, it offers us in its cool breeze the opportunity to churn our own soil and see what comes up.
What does the arrival of fall signify to you? To me, autumn produces an abundance of gratitude. Just one year ago, I was working hard to get my business off the ground. Now, one year later, my practice is blooming and blossoming and has so much promise still to offer. I am grateful for the work I have been able to do in the field of eating disorder recovery and counseling with other issues, and cannot wait to experience what this coming year has to offer. It truly shows me that when you put your heart into something, truly dedicate your passion to your dream, that there is nothing you cannot accomplish.
I came across a quote that aptly described my experience with gratitude this past year:
“Praise the bridge that carried you over.” ~George Colman
I like this quote because it speaks to building bridges that get you to the destination that you are searching for. It also reminds us to not forget the steps and trials we have endured to get to that side. I would like to add that there will always be another bridge to cross and by acknowledging and praising the prior bridges, we can feel empowered to continue building and climbing — even if upcoming bridges are more daunting in structure.
What bridges have you built and crossed in the past year? Which part of your bridge are you standing on right now? There is no “should”s in this concept; you are at the point in your journey where you are meant to be. For me, I have crossed the bridge I built over the first year of starting my practice. Though I am on the other side of that bridge, I have more designs in my mind that will be built into bridges: workshops, groups, classes, speaking events, seminars — all things that I want to produce or take part in over the next year. I also know about myself that I can get overwhelmed easily, so I must take care not to build too many bridges at once (or else one might get burned down!).
Another aspect of the quote that speaks out to me is that perhaps, you crossed a bridge that was challenging, in some ways painful, or perhaps damaging. Can you still praise a bridge such as this? Perhaps an example of this would be healing from a loss that you experienced over the past year. Do you wish that you had to endure that loss? Probably not. But it happened, and what can you take with you about that experience — what did you learn, how did you grow, what can you praise about it? As difficult as it is to praise painful things, I think that looking at all events in a constructive way (how did they benefit/impact your identity? your life experience?) can be very empowering and healing it is own way.
So, fall arrives, and washes away the heat that has beat down on us for so many days. With it, autumn brings a new chapter — school starting again, perhaps moving away to college or starting a new job. While a certain level of anxiety is natural with change, we also are invited to create the new chapter that we desire to enter. I am looking at this autumn with gratitude for what I have built, and for what I have presently in my life. I also am using those bridges to reinforce the hard work I still yet have to do in building new bridges. This is exciting for us all!
Below is a quote that I try to say everyday as a sort of mantra. Try it out for yourself. It is full of renewal and inspiration!
“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets
This week is a very important week for raising awareness and spreading educational resources about eating disorders. February 20-26th are seven days set aside to “finally talk about it”. As talking about eating disorders is scary for many of us who have connections to these deadly disorders — a loved one possibly developing one, a person who is currently struggling with one, or someone who is in active recovery — the thought of really “talking about it” can bring up anxious feelings. Why? Because, as mentioned in my previous blog posts, eating disorders are complex and seductive mental health disorders that threaten your physical and mental health, as well as affecting close relationship ties. It’s hard to tell someone that you have been restricting food or bingeing and purging. It’s hard to hear from a loved one that they have been experiencing out of control eating and feel they cannot stop. This can bring up so many mixed feelings: shame, guilt, and worry.
So, this week, we’re going to open the door to talking about eating disorders and we’re going to offer numerous resources and activities that can help erase the stigmas of eating disorders. Because you know what? We all have some connection to eating issues. Whether it’s being on a diet, exercising to achieve a goal, or trying to change the way you feel by using food to cope, men and women world-wide get it. We don’t all develop eating disorders, but we all have personally felt the effects of controlling food (type and/or amount) or know someone who has. And it we all do just one thing, we can really change the world.
The National Eating Disorder Association has a link with events and activities that are going on in your area. If you live in Denver or in the surrounding areas, the Eating Disorder Foundation is hosting a Candlelight Vigil for those wishing to join in a community gathering recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
The Fourth Annual Candlelight Vigil will be held to honor those taken by this terrible illness, those who continue to struggle,and those who have found their way to the light of recovery. It will be held at 6:30pm at the Wellshire Inn at 3333 So. Colorado Blvd, Denver, 80222.
Here are some resources for eating disorder awareness: Males and eating disorders; People of color: eating disorders affect us all; Athletes: a coach’s guide to eating disorders; and I t’s Time To Talk About It: an essay by Jenni Schaefer, eating disorder ambassador.
If you do just one thing, you can save a life. Find out more about eating disorders at: www.katedaiglecounseling.com.
I found this amazing blog the other day called Voice in Recovery. It is a comprehensive narrative on the struggles, challenges, victories, feelings, and wonderings that occur along the path of eating disorder recovery. It is an accessible resource to all — those who are struggling with an ED, those who have recovered/are in recovery, and families and friends of those affected by EDs. The topic brought out recently in this blog that I was inspired to write about is honesty in recovery. The blog author talked about being honest with all of the feelings, cravings, desires, and motives that you might have in your recovery. I was struck by the HIDDEN theme in the post.
Eating disorders are complex and intricate mental illnesses that affect every part of a person’s life: their mind, body, emotions, feelings, soul, and their family and friends. The ED can completely alter the way that you perceive the world as your are seduced by the powers of the ED voice. The most essential ingredient in recovery, in my opinion, is the way that you fight back against the power of the ED, reclaiming who you are and revitalizing your strengths. To find yourself and reclaim that fighting voice, you must be honest — with yourself, your family, your friends, your therapist, and anyone else who is in your life and who you would like to support you in your recovery. While we are surrounded by people who love us and want us to be healthy, we cannot stand only on the feet of others…we must learn to stand on our own and we must turn inward and take a stark look at the factors that are contributing to the ED behaviors. This can be intimidating! It can bring feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness – the very feelings that EDs thrive upon – to open ourselves up and try to heal the wounded parts. I VERY strongly suggest that you do this with the help of a therapist, someone who is trained to hold those feelings for you as you sort through them and find ways to not let them be so central to your perspective. Those uncomfortable and sometimes painful feelings that can surface when honestly looking at recovery may tempt you to close up and HIDE again…but they will not go away until they are exposed and you are freed of them.
Honesty is crucial in every part of life: in intimate relationships, in financial transactions, in college applications, and in legal documents. Being honest can bring with it a feeling of freedom and release. For someone who has suffered from an eating disorder, you may yearn for that feeling of freedom and release, but find yourself confronted with a dark and tangled forest of secrets, low self-esteem, and negative feelings that leave you exhausted before you even take a step. Being honest is the key to getting to the light on the other side, and with that honesty must come a promise to embrace yourself with acceptance as you wade through the tangled roots. I think the most liberating thing about honesty, whether it is in recovery from an ED or if it is involved in a relational issue, is the fact that you are letting a weight off of your shoulders that you may have carried around for some time. And as you feel emotionally lighter, there is less and less obstruction towards the freedom and healing that you have been working towards. Ultimately on a journey towards honesty, you will end up in a place where you can say “I am okay”. Those three words can be very powerful. When you are able to say “I am okay” and “there is nothing wrong with me”, and ED begins to lose its power and you begin to regain the strength you crave to design your own free life.
I have recently been intrigued by the concept of body memory, finding it to be a very real concept that can be a focus of therapeutic healing. I was reading a post that talked about how a body can remember a trauma or memory that may have happened many years ago, but that is somehow still trapped in the tendons, muscles, and morsels of a person’s body. What does this mean for a person’s mental well-being, and how does this experience shadow the mind-body connection that is so often used in therapy?
As I write a lot about body image, bodily harm, mental anguish that is projected onto the body, and other body-centered topics, I was curious about how eating disorders, emotional eating, and other types of body-involved mental disorders are connected to body memory. I have heard accounts of survivors of sexual abuse where the survivor talks about their muscles being tensed up and they “know” that there is emotional pain lingering in that part of their body. Getting a massage can be traumatic for someone who has had emotional pain felt in their body; I have learned about a new form of massage called Trauma Touch Therapy, which is a method used to release body memories in a safe way.
Bodies that are affected by and/or recovered from eating disorders may hold some of these same memories — of pain, shame, guilt, grief, loss. As a person heals emotionally, cognitively, and physically from a trauma — whether it is abuse by another, abuse by an eating disorder, or emotional anguish that results in such things as cutting — the body will hold some of those memories of times past in its tendons, whether it is as a protective mechanism against further trauma or, I wonder, because the body has coped with this memory for so long that it does not know how to let it go.
As we work through processing our issues, past and present, in therapy, does emotional release follow or precede with body memory release? Is body memory a therapeutic tool to help us cope and remember what we have survived, or is it a remembrance of traumas of times past that we just cannot let go?
This makes me think of war veterans or other victims who must get a limb amputated due to injury or illness. Research shows that the person’s body remembers that limb as if it is still attached for years to come. The body never really forgets. The effects of post-traumatic stress on the mind and body are intensifying as more people go to war, as the eating disorder epidemic increases, and as traumatic experiences that we may not even remember show up in body memory sensations.
As a therapist, this reiterates the importance of taking care of our minds and our bodies and remembering that they are connected in such deep ways. Yoga, exercise, breath-work, meditation, and mindfulness are all ways of highlighting the mind-body awareness to promote healing.