Wednesday, September 26, 2007


First it gets better.
Then it gets worse.
Then it gets real.
Then it gets different.
Then it gets real different.

Although I've been in recovery from eating disorders for twenty years, I don't take that for granted. I continue to celebrate two days from the first year of my recovery when I was 36 years old. Remembering those two days is crucial to my continuing recovery.

This is my first year of blogging, so some of you already know about my birthday in May which marks the last day I practiced bulimia in 1987.

September 26, 1987, was the day I realized that my eating disorder was triggered, in part, by refined sugar and alcohol and that if I wanted to be permanently free from bulimia, I would have to stop ingesting those substances. No one told me to do that. It was a decision I made based on experience, a pragmatic decision. It has proven to be the key to 20 years of recovery from a life-threatening disorder which is notoriously difficult to arrest.

What worked for me certainly isn't the standard protocol today when a person with an eating disorder receives treatment from the conventional medical community. In 1987, there were few, if any, treatment centers for eating disorders. I don't recall that medications were prescribed for people with eating disorders at that time.

My story is that I recovered without entering a treatment center or taking medication. I did join a support group which allowed me to find my own way in recovery along with other people who found their own way to live without using food as a drug. Very few people with whom I recovered refrained from alcohol and/or refined sugar, but that is what worked for me. I had a brief but significant relapse in November of 2005, a time when I began eating refined sugar (mainly in the form of chocolate) in a period of severe stress. I didn't go on to practice bulimia, but I did gain 8 pounds in a very short time and developed ocular rosacea from the chocolate. When I stopped eating refined sugar and chocolate, that was the end of the ocular rosacea as well as a return to my normal healthy weight. It is clear that, for me, refined sugar and chocolate are physically harmful. Otherwise, I would love to enjoy them along with everyone else. I have wonderful memories of foods I can no longer eat if I want to remain in good health.

Yesterday I received an email from iTunes announcing September 25, 2007, as the release date of the first album in ten years by Joni Mitchell. So, for my 20th birthday, I'm going to buy Joni Mitchell's new CD, Shine.

When I called the Fred Meyer store to ask if they had the new Joni Mitchell CD, I had to smile when the young female clerk said, "Is that Country or Rock?"

The photo of Joni Mitchell from January 2007 was taken by Aaron Harris / Canadian Press.

The above gouache and watercolor painting on Arches watercolor paper is "Calendar Series: 28th Month (Return / The Turning Point)," painted by am in 1988 in the early days of my recovery.


The Solitary Walker said...

Happy anniversary, am. This is an uplifting story. Can't wait to hear the Joni album. A new Springsteen out too.

burning silo said...

Happy birthday, am. Yes, it is an uplifting story. That's trulyl a wonderful painting.

robin andrea said...

I am very moved by this painting, am. I really wish I could see your work up close. There is something about your artwork that really touches me.

I am so happy about Joni's new CD. It's been a long time since she's released any new music. There's an interview with her on youtube where she is discussing the new album. Check it out: Shine.

am said...

solitary walker, burning silo and robin andrea -- Thanks so much for the birthday greetings! I can't think of my birthdays without thinking of that painting.

I watched YouTube video about "Shine" and then went out and bought "Shine." What a treat to be able to listen to Joni Mitchell again. It will take a while to familiarize myself with the lyrics, but the sound of the music is immediately engaging. I love that she is such a mixture of gravity and levity. I feel certain that the mixed message of her continued smoking as she talks about the degradation of the earth is not lost on her. I know I am in good company when I feel don't have to apologize for my own contradictions.

Anonymous said...

Strong honest and true
Happy Birthday to you.