… the sun will always rise.

Ryan sent me this photo that he took on his way to work this morning, and I honestly had a bit of an emotional reaction to it.

Sunrises in general mean a lot to me, the reason directly related to these few words I often told myself (and still do) on my most difficult nights: no matter how dark the night, the sun will always rise.

Now, Ryan has taken some incredible sunrise photos, but what struck me about this one was the darkness of the dead tree in the foreground. As soon as I saw the photo, I thought of my little mantra that I mentioned above. In my mind, that tree symbolized the darkness of the night.

So, to put this into words that aren’t just the ramblings of my mind:

Whatever you’re going through, it won’t last forever. This darkness in your life, in your head, in your heart – it’s not permanent. Your depression does not get to dictate your existence, your anxiety does not own you, your addiction does not define you, your disorder is not your name.

You are:

  • Beautiful
  • Capable
  • Deserving
  • Enough
  • Free
  • Loved
  • Significant
  • Worthy

You are not:

  • A Failure
  • A Lost Cause
  • A Waste of Space
  • Alone
  • Disgusting
  • Hopeless
  • Worthless
  • Your Mistakes

No matter how last night’s darkness tries to creep it’s way into your sunshine, it doesn’t belong there.

Every sunrise is a new beginning.

Dawn is coming, don’t lose hope.


N.N.

No.More.Excuses.

It was brought to my attention this weekend, by my darling fiance, that I was making excuses in order to isolate myself. It tends to happen when he is out of town, it is what it is. But it got me thinking — I make excuses in so many aspects of my life. Depending on the situation, I usually attribute making these excuses to my social anxiety, eating disorder, depression, and / or just having a bad day.

There has to a point when enough is enough.

One of the most evident places in my life where these excuses wreak havoc, is my social life,, I’ve gotten pretty creative with these. Some days, or most days, I just don’t have the emotional or physical energy to make an effort to see, or even text, anyone – even family. This is not okay. Social anxiety manifests for different people in different ways. For me – it primarily stems from my extreme lack of confidence.

I can’t keep squeaking through life pretending to give a damn about my life, I need to ACTUALLY give a damn. Believing that I’m worthy of relationships is a start.

The thing I struggle with more than anything, and what I hate talking about more than anything: FOOD. I hate it. I hate it so much. I think the hate might actually be an excuse in and of itself – but bottom line here, I have to work on my relationship with food. This sounds bizarre to anyone who has never struggled with an eating disorder… But I haven’t been able to eat like a normal person since I was a child. Every bite is a fight. Lately my eating disorder has chosen to use these excuses to get to me more than before. Bad days are excuses for “comfort,” or “bad” food. For me, “bad” food usually means over-eating and [sometimes] purging, and subsequently taking away the day’s productivity from that point on using, you guessed it, excuses. No gym because I’m tired, no run because I ate too much so I’m too full… Etc.

Today is the day for no excuses.

Today is the day I keep pushing forward >> towards the hope and prayer that on my wedding day, and the days thereafter, I will be both anxiety-free & genuinely confident.

✌️NT

Grace, Beauty, Spirit & Freedom

Tinker Quote

Words cannot even begin to describe how important my horse is in my life, and how much she helps me every day. She always waits for me with her head over her gate. She neighs when she sees me… she loves me.

She truly is graceful; she is beautiful. She has so much spirit, she helps me find mine.

Freedom – such a powerful word. It’s been a key word in my recovery too, it is what I strive for. Freedom from my eating disorder, freedom from depression, freedom from self-hatred; freedom found only in Christ. I feel this freedom every time I’m on the back of my gentle little mare. It’s a feeling like no other; like the world is ours to conquer.

Whatever makes you feel free, cherish it. Whether it is on the back of a horse, behind the wheel, running or writing… never give it up.

Be free. ✌

💙 N.O.

 

 

5 Years of Fighting

It’s been more than 10 years since I first began struggling with poor self-worth as a young girl. Things only got worse as I got older. Low self-esteem developed into self-hatred, anxiety, depression, self-harm and an eating disorder; all of which progressed until I lost the girl I once was. My mom finally saw through the fake smile and was determined to not lose her daughter entirely. 5 years ago today my mom, quite literally, dragged me kicking & screaming to Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg, AZ (now Remuda Ranch at the Meadows) – a residential treatment facility specializing in eating & related disorders. Little did I know at the time that my life would never be the same. I met some amazing people who changed my life for the better; people I will never forget. After I was discharged 60 days later, I had it in my head that I was going to be okay from there on out; that I was recovered, and I wasn’t going to let my illness control my life anymore. A few months, a relapse and a hospitalization later – I realized I still had a long way to go. I could go on about how I wish I was farther along in my recovery than I am, and how I think 17 year old me might be disappointed to see where I’m at today – BUT, I’m not going to. I have spent 5 years fighting for my life. I could have been in and out of treatment centers and hospitals. I could have dropped out of college and given up on myself entirely – but I didn’t. 5 years later and I’ve graduated college, landed a good full-time job, returned to my love of horses & barrel racing, and been able to be okay living on my own and supporting myself; none of which would have been possible without my desire for recovery.

5 years later and I do still struggle. Some days depression, anxiety & panic still take hold of my life. I’m still in therapy, I still have a fragile relationship with food, and I still don’t love myself like I should. But I am also alive, and that is something I am proud of. 5 years ago I was forced to look at myself and realize that the life I was living wasn’t truly living, and that I needed to make a change. Although these past 5 years have been some of the hardest of my life, I have learned so much about myself.

5 years later I’m still learning that I am worthy of love. 5 years later I am still learning that there doesn’t have to be an explanation behind “no.” 5 years later I’m finally working hard to take back my life from the men that took it from me years ago. 5 years later and I’m still struggling, but I am fighting. I am a survivor, and I always will be. No one can take that away from me. Recovery is a process, and maybe my process is longer than others. Maybe I’ve taken more steps backward than others. But my recovery is my own, and theirs is their own. I can sit here today and be proud of the woman I am. I am learning to set boundaries that were torn down long ago. I am learning to accept and love myself as I am. I can finally begin to see my worth through the eyes of my Heavenly Father, not through the mistakes of my earthly father.

If I had it my way, I wouldn’t be here today. But I thank God everyday for saving me, and for this wonderful life that He has blessed me with. I am so thankful for my family, my friends, and the countless professionals who have gone above and beyond to show me that my life truly is worth living, and that I really am loved.

My faith is what has gotten me through my lowest lows, and sometimes the only peace I am able to find from my anxiety is through Jesus. I’m here to tell you today that there is always hope even when all you can see is darkness. There is always someone who loves you and who would give their life for you. Never give up – there’s a reason you are here. While at Remuda I found a verse that has meant more to me than any other words I’ve read in the bible, take it to heart:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.                       -John 14:27

5 years later and I am still fighting, and I will continue to fight. My scars, both inside & out, will always be there to remind me how far I truly have come. This war may never be over, but I’ll count each day I wake up as a battle won.

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✌N.O.

Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

Hello again! It’s been a couple of months since I posted anything, and it’s been for good reason. A lot has happened this year; changes that have had me doubting God, myself, recovery and life in general. Be forewarned, this will be a long post, but it’s been a long time coming. Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone who has reached out to me (emails, phone calls, letters, cards, texts) and prayed for me during this time in my life. Your words and prayers are more appreciated than you may ever know.

So I’m just going to throw it out there – my relapse began months ago. Some people knew, others were oblivious. Although sometimes I doubt if my recovery was ever truly real, I question if my disorder has simply evolved throughout the years. Either way, it’s here – but I’m not denying it anymore. Addiction is a funny thing, especially when you’ve been through treatment and have pretty sound insight into why it takes hold of you the way it does. Earlier this year is when Bulimia shoved itself back into my life. In my journal the night after I threw up for the first time in nearly a year, I wrote that it “felt like coming home after being away for too long.” Self-harm made its appearance shortly after my eating disorder. While I can’t pinpoint an exact event that triggered my relapse, I know that it is mainly due to a buildup of shame I’ve held for a very long time that I’ve chosen not to deal with. As I’ve heard recently – traumatized children who don’t thoroughly and honestly deal with their pasts will grow into dysfunctional adults. Here I am, at 22, experiencing dysfunction in all of my relationships – especially with myself.

I can’t tell you exactly why I hit rock bottom, all I can tell you is that I did – and it happened on June 14, 2015. As I was sitting in the ER waiting room, completely alone after driving myself there – this is what I typed on my phone:

Sitting here in the ER, I can honestly say that I am at my lowest low I’ve been in a really long time. Rock bottom? Possibly. Panic attack. Cut wrist. How did I get here? At least I didn’t take the pills. But really, wouldn’t that have been better? Ugh.

That day, that weekend – I was ready to die. I didn’t attempt to kill myself, probably because I’ve been on the other end of the repercussions and heartbreak of someone leaving this world before they’re meant to, but I was ready. I don’t remember driving to the hospital, it’s all kind of a blur. But I know someone was looking out for me; despite my running away from Jesus, he has never left me.

I spent a week in a Behavioral Health Center after the ER staff deemed that I was a danger to myself – I couldn’t argue with that. That week was very eye-opening for me. My actions put my job, relationships, and overall livelihood at risk. I couldn’t be there again, I wouldn’t let myself get that low again. Although not yet fully committed to recovery, I knew that something had to change. I also finally understood that I really can’t do this alone, because doing recovery by myself for 8+ years obviously hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I gave my heart to Jesus that week in the hospital. Although it wasn’t the first time I’d prayed those words, it was the first time my heart was truly crying out to Him. I’m not perfect, and I certainly haven’t been 100% successful since I’ve been home – but more than ever before, I’m really trying.

Only a few people know of my experience, and honestly not many people noticed my absence that week – but those that did are the ones that matter. I keep trying to come up with some kind of way to answer people when they ask, “why?” It’s so difficult to explain because there is so much stigma around mental health, particularly when it comes to the point that people are suicidal or self-destructive. So in an attempt to help, I’m going to share something I wrote while in the hospital. It’s titled The Darkness, and it is far from my best work, and may not make a whole lot of sense, but I hope it will help others try to understand what people with any type of mental illness face everyday of their lives, particularly those who struggle with self-harm and/or an eating disorder. While this is particularly about cutting and bulimia, the idea of a complete lack of control is not unique. [Please note – I do not hear voices, but others do – I can’t speak for what they hear and what their experiences are.]

**Trigger Warning**

THE DARKNESS

He is sneaky, powerful, overwhelming

He tells me I am worthless

He creeps over me like a shadow

Until I am suffocated

He is Darkness

He puts the razor blade in my hand

He whispers in my ear…

                “It’s the only way”

He draws the blade across my skin

                “Deeper, deeper!” he yells

He says that the blood is all I need;

                Relief, sweet relief

The blood stops

He says that it’s not enough

                “You are never good enough”

He draws the blade across again

The scar will be beautiful

He tells me I will never be beautiful

But I will always have my scars

He is Darkness

He drags me to the bathroom

He throws me on the ground

He shoves his fingers down my throat

Until there’s no more food left inside of me

                “You’re too fat for food!” He screams

He tosses me on the scale

                  No matter the number, “You overweight pig”

Standing in front of the mirror

He points out every imperfection

He assures me that no one will ever love me

He is The Darkness that blinds me every single day…

But there is also light

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ –

He is the light.

He is wonderful, loving, and merciful

He tells me I am worthy of his grace

He comes over me like a sweet song

Until I am at peace

He gently takes the razor blade out of my hand

He sweetly tells me that I am loved

               “There is hope”

He stands me in front of the mirror

And says that He doesn’t make mistakes

He reminds me that I am saved

Nothing can separate me from him

He claims that he isn’t done with me yet

Tomorrow is a new day

He calls me his daughter

                Beautiful, rescued, redeemed

He sees my scars, both inside and out

And still calls me beautiful

My scars will remind me where I’ve been

And that He is not done with me yet

He is Light

He defeats The Darkness

working-on-myselfI owe Jesus Chris my life – many times over. I’m forever grateful to my family and friends who have continued to pray for me over the years. It’s going to take a long time to get my life wholly back on track, but I’m ready to fight for my life.

Humans are fallible, they will fail at some point in their lives. They will hurt others even if they have the best intentions. It’s become more clear to me that for most of my adult life I’ve tried to base my worth off of other’s opinions of me – particularly men. This is not uncommon, I see it play out everyday in the lives of my friends and so many others. Jesus is the only one who I can always rely on, He will never fail me. I need to find my God-given purpose in this life, I don’t need to find a person to fill that hole. One day I will meet a man who was placed on this Earth just for me, and when that happens I will be the kind of woman that a man after God’s own heart is searching for.

If you’ve made it this far – thanks for allowing me to share a little bit of my life with you. I will leave you with this verse, Ephesians 2: 8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” None of us deserve to be saved, that is what is so incredibly amazing about God’s grace. I certainly don’t deserve his grace anymore today than I did yesterday. But everyday I fall more in love with my Savior, and everyday I will strive to be the best I can be by living for Him, and expecting nothing else in return.

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-N.O.

Self-Hatred to Self-Love; 10 Tips to Love Your Body

Self-Hatred, something more intense and destructive than anyone who has never experienced it will ever understand. There’s a huge difference between someone who doesn’t like certain things about themselves and someone who hates every part of his/her body & being.

I have gone through most of my life hating myself. The reasons why I hated who I was are many, but shame is at the root. My shame evolved to a point where I absolutely despised my self, my soul… I dreaded looking in the  mirror every morning. Living life this way should hardly be considered living.

For many, self-hatred either begins with poor body image or the hatred becomes projected onto one’s body. Here are ten tips to learn to love your body; in conjunction with these, put a smile on your face and if you must – fake it ’till you make it. 😉

1. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
2. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
3. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
4. Count your blessings, not your flaws.
5. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
6. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body at this point in time.
7. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”beautiful
8. Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
9. Consider this – life is way too short to waste time hating yourself.
10. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people who remind you of your own inner strength and beauty.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” ~Malcolm S. Forbes

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Tips chosen & paraphrased from NEDA’s “20 Ways to Love Your Body” Compiled by Margo Maine, PhD.