WARNING: numbers

First: it is very odd to me that neither of the gyms I’ve gone to now in AL have scales in their locker rooms… only ONE scale for the whole gym that’s out in the main area. Plus, it’s an old-fashioned scale. In NYC, you have old fashioned scales, maybe, but there are going to be at least three in a locker room. C’mon. What is this nonsense?

At my wig fitting a couple of days ago my hair person said that I’d lost weight since being here. I felt like it might be true– I eat less when I don’t have a nice boy to ask for desserts. Plus, I’ve been working out pretty regularly. A part of me felt a bit nervous about it– but not TOO nervous. My depression is under control, and I know my triggers. I’m not going off the edge, and I know that, 100%, with a confidence that really makes me feel strong.

Today, as I changed back into my clothes after a costume fitting, I pulled the scale down off the shelf and weighed myself in my show slip and socks.

I weighed the low end of what I usually weigh.

Part of me was disappointed.

COME ON, GIRL. GET IT TOGETHER.

I don’t want to lose weight– at the VERY least, my costumes need to fit for the next two months.

I’m not anxious or freaked out. I’m just always amazed at how ingrained our reactions to numbers are. I think that, at least for me, it has less to do with my ED than the constantly ingrained notion in our society (and my biz in particular) that we should always be losing weight… even if we genuinely don’t need to.

Life is weird.

Starting tech tomorrow. Here. We. Go. http://www.bykennethjones.com/elyzabeth-gregory-wilders-white-lightning-new-play-rum-running-racing-romance-premieres-alabama/

Trigger / Solution

So… I haven’t written about my eating disorder in so long!

Why?

Well, because I don’t need to, most of the time. I have been stable in both weight and mental health for going on three years now. I cannot tell you how lucky that makes me feel; how grateful I am for the people and institutions who supported me; how deeply I understand how FUCKING HARD it is to come out of this whole.

To everyone still working… keep working. Be gentle with yourself. Try everything once. And most of all, find happiness somewhere– anywhere– and cherish that as you fill that up that deep sinkhole that food used to control.

It’s all pretty words, but I want anyone who is reading this to know that it is 100% hard but 100% possible to be “okay.” Remember how I also talked about how many YEARS it took? Yeah. So.

Anyway, the reason I’m posting now is because in cleaning out my computer, I found an old document. I feel certain I found it somewhere, so wherever it came from… sorry for stealing your great words. It’s a list of triggers and solutions. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great resource. I invite you to check it out.

With love and affection,
B.

A series of unfamiliar situations, “unsafe” foods, unpredictable environments, restaurants, and social eating, like a vacation.
(Solution: Plan ahead, bring my own foods, get through as many challenges as possible, but keep as much consistency as possible.  Seek accountability with one or more of my traveling partners and be completely honest.)

Feeling strong, happy, and successful.
(Solution: remember that I must eat to stay this way.  All strong people eat.)

Conflict within a friendship or family relationship
(Solution: Evaluate my role honestly; make amends if necessary; set boundaries and get out.)

Sadness or failure
(Solution: let myself feel all of my emotions; be gentle with myself.  Remember that I need to eat to have strength to cope.  Remember that no one is perfect.) SEE INSIDE OUT!!!!! (that’s from B)

Stress or busyness
(Solution: make eating a priority to myself.  Eliminate as much stress as possible from life.  Make dates with friends to ensure that I eat when I am “too busy.” )

Weight gain
(Solution: follow nutritionist’s recommendations and forget about it.  Don’t weigh myself.)

Feeling overwhelmed
(Solution: have a friend or therapist help me evaluate and simplify my life.  If I am still stressed, realize that it is BETTER TO QUIT SOMETHING than to fall back into my ED.)

A friend’s ED, weight loss, skipped meals or odd food/exercise habits
(Solution: remember that I am following a perfectly prescribed diet and that I need to do what is right and healthy for me.  Realize that I probably have much more substantial nutrition knowledge than them.  Avoid meal times or diet talk with affected friend.)

Clothes not fitting
(Solution: throw item away and purchase a replacement, preferably a different brand.  Realize that it’s not my failure; it’s the clothing designer’s failure.)

Reading about diets or seeing pictures of underweight celebrities
(Solution: don’t read it.  Get accountability in this area if need be.  If I am needing an escape, read a travel or home decoration magazine, or a Christian or psychology book.)

Sense of loneliness
(Solution: schedule time for meaningful interaction with another human—if I don’t have a friend, make one.  Be vulnerable and express my needs.)

Weight loss
(Solution: immediately evaluate the cause.  If related to illness, take time off from school/exercise/life to get better.  If related to ED behaviors, notify therapist and others and implement what is needed.  If accidental and repeated again the next week, add extra nutrition.  Treat it as a serious symptom.)

#thursdaymorningtherapy

The last month has been very strange.

For the last few years that I’ve had a salaried part-time position., my schedule has been relatively set. I work from 11am or 12pm until around 5pm. LOTS happens around these times, but this was the basic structure of my weeks. Every day but Thursday.

Thursday was the day I had therapy. For about a year and a half, it was also the day I saw my nutritionist. Most other appointments were also scheduled for that day — GP, gyno, psychiatrist, dermatologist, dentist. Now, I could care less about those other appointments and doctors. Those weren’t what Thursdays were about.  Thursday was my recovery day, my healthy day, my day where my only job was to be well.

I stopped seeing my nutritionist in 2011. I only see my psychiatrist every four months or so. I only go to the GP once a year. And as of December 2013, I stopped seeing my therapist.

It is a very strange feeling that Thursday had this meaning for me, for so long. I think about it differently than other days. Even now, after about three months of Thursdays without requirements, it’s hard for me to reconcile it as just “any old day.” Last week, I took Wednesday off instead of Thursday at work. It was a good choice for my exhaustion, but it felt like a Thursday. And the Thursday I worked? I kept thinking it was Wednesday. No joke.

And another thing.

I miss my therapist. I am 100% certain that I don’t need her in my life right now, and 100% certain that I’m doing exactly the same thing I would have been doing had I still been seeing her, but I miss her. Four years of Thursdays. She knows me better than anyone on earth. And now we don’t speak. How weird is that?! I want to tell her about my successes. I want to cry in my chair across from hers. I want to talk about things that irritate me. I just… kind of want to see her face.

I expect this is normal. Even she acknowledged that leaving a therapy relationship is strange and hard. She shared her own experience of it. And it’s actually been less hard than I expected. I thought I’d feel heartbroken, like every time I thought about her I’d feel sad. That’s not the case. I just miss her. You know?

I talk to my mentees a lot about therapy. Many of them have had bad experiences with therapists, and it breaks my heart. I somehow lucked into finding the most incredible woman who trusted me and believed me and respected me and was there for me and worked with me in a way that worked with who I was. She is the best. I just want all of my mentees (and all of everyone!) to find this kind of person. Someone who is with you 100% every time you’re in her chair, and anytime out of it. Compassionate, caring, but not demeaning or diminishing of your agency.

But I don’t know how to help anyone find that, unless they’re in New York City and can afford her.

What I HAVE been sharing is the website for the specific type of therapy she frequently practiced with me, AEDP. I only know what it is because she sent me referrals for other practitioners of AEDP in other states. From their website:

There is no better way to capture the ethos of AEDP than to say this: we try to help our patients—and ourselves—become stronger at the broken places. By working with trauma, loss, and the painful consequences of the limitations of human relatedness, we discover places that have always been strong, places that were never broken.

Crisis and suffering provide opportunities to awaken extraordinary capacities that otherwise might lie dormant, unknown and untapped. AEDP, as a therapeutic approach, is about making the most of these opportunities for healing and transformation. Key to this experiential enterprise is the establishment of the therapeutic relationship as safe, secure base.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I will not go to therapy, I will not go to work. But I will go and perform a show. Because that’s what I’m lucky enough to be able to do. And much of that is thanks to these past four years of Thursdays.

If you guys are interested in learning more about AEDP or finding a certified therapist, here’s the website. http://www.aedpinstitute.org/

Love.

B.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery– air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.'”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

All she has to do is exist.

“‘You have the luxury of time. You’re young. Young people are doing something even when they’re doing nothing. A young woman is conduit. All she has to do is exist.’ You have time. Meaning don’t use it, but pass through time in patience, waiting for something to come. Prepare for its arrival. Don’t rush to meet it. Be a conduit. I believed him. I felt this to be true. Some people might consider that passivity but I did not. I considered it living.”
The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

One of the strangest things about day-to-day life is how mundane it seems. I get up. I go to the gym. I go to work. I go home. I make soup. I watch bad TV. I try and get auditions. I go to bed. Ostensibly, “nothing” is going on in my life.

I never really listen to music, except when I’m doing something else, like playing a game on my iPad or cooking, and it’s even more rare that I listen to music while walking down the street. But the other night, I did. I was on the train, and an Iron & Wine song came on shuffle. Now, there are LOTS of songs that bring up memories for me. But all of a sudden, this song jerked me into taking a step back and actually looking at what this “nothing” really is. And I’m shocked to discover that these days– morning to night– that feel so devoid, so par for the course, are the building blocks for an amazing life.

Sometimes I feel that way in New York. This place is idealized by so many people (I, for one, never really did– I guess I just always assumed I’d be here, and didn’t fantasize about it at all), and this is where my “nothing” life takes place. The capital of the WORLD. I have to stop myself, often, and marvel at this city. I literally stop in the street sometimes, and look up at the skyscrapers, like a nerd, and think to myself, “I am living a life that others dream of. No matter what else I’m doing, being here is a success.” Because it is. Because New York is fucking hard.

Also, because I am someone who comes from a state with two professional theatres (yes, I said “state” and “two”), I can’t forget my artistic life here. I don’t know how many Broadway and off-Broadway shows I’ve seen for free. This year alone, examples include but are not limited to: Hands on a Hardbody, Romeo and Juliet, The Nance, The Testament of Mary, Little Miss Sunshine, Golden Boy, Picnic… I have seen Julie Andrews in a bathroom, given Liam Neeson back the hat he forgot in a theatre (he was so sweet about it), and seen Patti LuPone, Phylicia Rashad, James Earle Jones, Dianne Wiest, Ellen Burstyn, Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christopher Lloyd, Fiona Shaw, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths, Zosia Mamet, and ENDLESS MORE live onstage, often from a few rows back. How cool is that? And I’ve met some of them too. I did a reading with Anthony Rapp. I did a reading directed by Shirley Knight. Stephen Sondheim saw me act. (sorry, Braggy McGhee just got excited).

L received news that she will receive her last chemo treatment on December 17. That’s literally two years and ten days after her initial diagnosis. She texted me and asked me to be there. I will. And I’m can’t believe it. Walking with L down this path has been so strange and awful and important and… it’s hard to talk about. When I talk about it too much, I feel like I’m being a “poor me” jerk who thinks she was more important than she actually was. But I have to be honest– I was there for a LOT of it. Probably more than anyone else besides her parents. That’s not nothing. And cancer, like all diseases, is powerful. It is a nuclear bomb, and anyone who is nearby when it explodes is infected with radiation. And those of us who bear it, and live with it, uncomfortable though it is, emerge with superpowers. Like Spiderman. (someone shut me up)

Then “Now We Can See” by the Thermals came on as I was trudging up the subway stairs. The last song in the first show “my” company ever produced. 2010. We were very young, kinda dumb, but with enthusiasm and self-confidence, poured to overflowing into this strange group of young people. What a strange, wonderful first New York theatrical experience. We won awards and got raves, yes, which was amazing and thrilling and great, but even more special was the feeling that washed over all of us as we sang this song, stomping, clutching the mikes, shaking our styled hair, in one of the most historic theatres in New York. What was that feeling? A strange mix of confidence, hope, and more than anything, joy. We overflowed. Regardless of what would happen next, those moments in the Ellen Stewart Theatre were unforgettable.

I spent four years with my therapist, and now I’m phasing out. I think I have two more sessions. WHO KNEW I’d ever get to this point? I sure didn’t. I frankly didn’t know what I thought, but in the last four years, I’ve felt so far from “stable” that leaving wasn’t even a thought. But here I am. Moving forward, out of therapy, because I have done so much goddamn work. And that’s the most amazing thing– not, “oh my god, weirdo me is leaving therapy! Crazy!” but “Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

 

It was such a good idea…

But life intervened. Per usual.

As you can see, I’m not posting really, like at all. Even those cute daily worksheets. Why, you ask? Is everything okay?

So, the answers to all your burning questions:

1. I am okay. I’m on the better side of okay, actually– I’ve lately been very successful with looking at the daily work and each little step with great confidence, rather than looking at everything from a wide lens and freaking out about how behind I am. This is keeping me pretty happy– like a step above “happy enough to function.”

2. Eating is good. I think about it, sure, but I don’t binge. This is miraculous to the me of 2 years ago, when I couldn’t imagine this kind of freedom.

3. A is struggling. His agent (very kindly, but still) dropped him a couple of weeks ago, and general malaise about not working and worrying about money has cast a shadow over him this month. Still, we have managed to find many moments of levity, including a beautiful day at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

4. I will likely be writing less here because I’m working on putting together something exciting and new and totally terrifying with a colleague. Not a solo piece per se… But something we create with me as the axis, as it were. I’m interested in exploring fantastical short stories in theatrical form (Oh hi, it’s me, Pretentious Polly). Karen Russell, Aimee Bender, George Saunders, etc.

5. I’m taking “workshops.” I hate this shit. But if I want to get into these casting offices, I have to go. And I have to nail it EVERY TIME. I’ve got an important one (prob my most important casting office) on Monday.

6. I got asked to do a private reading for the director of American Stare. At his house, which is stressful. With a German accent, which is SUPER stressful. Anything else– British, Irish, Southern, French– but German is really hard for me. I’m working on it!

7. The biggest news is that I’m leaving therapy. Yeah, bomb drop! I’m in such a good place with such a good support system and I’ve really internalized my therapist’s voice… That I really am ready. We both agreed, but I was the one who really said it in as many words. I’m sad, because she is a PART of me, and I love her in a way I’ve never loved anyone, but I’m proud.

8. Cat’s good, mom’s good, money is tight, and I still cry when I walk into a theatre. But I feel like I can see my feet on the earth, pushing off, making prints. I am moving, I am making an impact, and the air is clear.

I am here. I read your blogs. I send you love. And feeling still and strong in this whirlwind makes me certain without a doubt that “okay-ness” is possible and coming for all of us in this tiny blog circle.

Till next time, loves.

xoxo
B

Treatment Options for Binge Eating Disorder

This is amazing. I 100% support everything written here, and I have used many of these tools in my (pretty much complete? Eek!) recovery.

Dear Bee

Question from a lovely reader this morning: 

I was wondering what the treatment options are for Binge Eating Disorder. Obviously there are different severities of the disorder and different treatments needed for different people on a case-by-case basis, but I was wondering if maybe you could summarize some of the options out there for some of us.

Basically what I’m saying is, I have Binge Eating Disorder, and it is currently running and ruining my life. I really really need help but I want to know what I’m in for. Is inpatient a thing that happens with BED, ever? Is it usually therapy? What goes on for a typical patient, what is considered “severe,” etc…. I don’t know if there’s one good question in there to answer, but I’m really hoping you might have a bit of input, given that you are a) in recovery and b) on your way…

View original post 2,419 more words

Dangerous Thinking

"You’re at a healthy weight. Lower than it’s been in a while! But you’re not as low as you were after you had the flu. And then you changed your resume. And you also would look way better with those 5 pounds off. So maybe think about that?"

"I’m hungry. I’ll eat dinner. Then later I’ll have one of those blueberry bars I made for dessert. Oh, j/k, I’ll just have a nibble on one now. Oh, fuck it, I’ll eat one. Fuck it. Two more. Crackers!"

"This is not how you lose those last five pounds, you idiot. Use your fucking self-control. You are not even binging– you are just eating more than you NEED! Get over yourself! Start actually listening to yourself again! Jesus."

"Oh, I feel so good in rehearsal, sweating and running around and feeling like my body can do anything! Oh wait, I’m sitting on the floor and my thighs, oh lord, when did they get so huge and white and fat? When? How?!"

"You look so great, girl! Enjoy your body where it should be! Don’t stress too much! You didn’t lose the weight by stressing, you lost the weight by NOT stressing! (but if I don’t start stressing again how do I maintain this and/or lose the five pounds I lost from being sick and not eating for three days?)"

So basically… summer is fun. A and I are struggling (not in a major problem/breakup way, but in a "we’re stressed and living together" way). I am in rehearsal 11am – 4pm every day, and I come home sweaty and exhausted and starving (I bring lunch, but I never bring enough to hold me over till I get home at like 4:45pm). A works 5:45pm – 10:30pm every night at the theatre. So we have that hour, when all I want to be doing is veg-ging on the couch and watching Orange is the New Black, but he wants to like, chat! and be together! since he’s been home all day. So he feels like I’m ignoring him when I sit quietly on the couch. Which, naturally makes me feel like a big fucking asshole.

And then I have evenings alone, which is MAJOR DANGER TIME, especially because I come home hungry.

Now here’s the thing.

I’m not bingeing. At all.

If anything, I’m just not eating super balanced, well-proportioned meals. I have no idea how many calories I’m burning doing commedia dell’arte in rehearsal, but probably not enough to come home and eat (numbers coming) 380 calories of brown rice, 200 calories of crackers, and however many calories are in three blueberry crumb bars I made last night (at least 150 each), not counting all the other "healthy calories." Oof.

Anyway.

That’s what’s whirling around in my brain when I’m desperately trying NOT to learn my lines (and by that I mean I should be learning my lines but I really don’t want to).

It’s hot in New York.

I’m tired and I feel fat.

I am not fat. And fat is not a feeling. OKAY?!

But I am tired.

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