Blog

Featured

An Open Letter to My New Body

To my new body,

I’m sorry I have been so mean to you lately. I’ve called you names and turned my nose up in disgust when I really should have been thanking you for everything you’ve supported me through. Even while struggling with an eating disorder for most of my life, I still
found a way to participate in all of the active sports I loved as a child thanks to you.

I’m sorry for avoiding your reflection in the mirror and squeezing you into clothes
that you no longer fit into. You see, I’m not used to seeing my body in this way. Try to understand that throughout my whole life you have looked a certain way and I have come to have the expectation that you should always look that way. Thank you for being patient with me because it’s taking a moment recognize that this new body is mine. Not only that it’s mine, but also that this new body is healthier. This is the body of a woman in her mid 20’s battling an eating disorder and learning how to nourish her body in a more intuitive and mindful way. This is a body going through the grueling process of healing. It a roller-coaster filled with stress hormones from my constant flight or fight response alarms going off despite my best efforts to remind it that nothing that I am doing is scary. It’s a body that is learning slowly that it can trust me again just like I am learning how to trust my body.

I am still learning how to feel beautiful in this body and that is okay! As much as I hate to admit it, my beauty standards are highly conditioned by our media and the poison they spread by making women feel inferior for not achieving a body size that is physically impossible. We are not meant to look the same. We are not meant to stay the same size and shape throughout our lives. While logic tells me these things, something still hasn’t clicked in my ED brain to release the expectation of perfection that I seem to have set for myself.

The best way I know how to release this expectation is to also release the expectation that I will one day wake up and feel beautiful every day and love my body every second. That I will one day show off my tummy rolls and stretch marks and random little hairs that I know we all pluck in secret and pretend we never had. I have to accept that some days I won’t be filled with confidence and feel the most beautiful, but appreciating my body and all it has done for me can be done if I have confidence or not.

Dear my new body, I promise to do my best to fight off my distorted thoughts to keep you healthy. When I find that the fight is becoming too difficult to bare on my shoulders, I will lean on my team; because attacking an eating disorder from all sides is impossible when you only have two hands. I promise to try my hardest to change my mindset about what it means to be beautiful. To consciously filter what media I am spending my time consuming. I promise to disconnect the way I measure beauty from my clothing size and the number that appears on the scale. I promise to move my body joyfully and not for the purpose of losing weight or punishing myself for my food choices. I promise not to push myself through a workout in efforts to make my body look a certain way. I promise to be nicer to you with my words and thoughts, because you have been so strong for me throughout my whole life.

Why My ARFID Makes It So Hard To Say, “I’m Proud Of My Self.”

So I spend a lot of time on the internet, which I don’t think that is much of a surprise to anyone. If you know me personally then you must know that I’m a photographer who loves getting visual inspiration from as many resources and mediums as possible. But I am also a millennial, and we are all expected to fit into this little box-one that is filled with technology, screens and wires alike.

The other day I realized that I was searching on the internet for something very specific. But it didn’t turn out to be your typical quick Google search-I was searching for hours. I kept changing search engines hoping to find what I was looking for. I adjusted my wording, hopped between different social networking sites, and then-I finally stopped. I realized at that moment that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for. Because it simply did not exist.

Have you ever thought about the amazing inventions that preceded our birth? Such as, planes, trains, cars and even rocket ships? Or even something that’s even simpler than those things-possibly even created in our lifetime? Creations like, Facebook or Amazon. How many of us have had that face-palm moment like, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

During my failed attempt to complete my internet search, I had a that moment where I realized, that maybe this is my chance to create a space to talk about the things that I was looking for. And that’s how this blog was born.

Little webpage, welcome to the already-crowded internet hemisphere! I hope that in all of the chaos-someone who needs to read you, will find you. I will admit that I have thought about sharing my story before, but I didn’t realize that after doing so, I would find myself actively creating content and writing about my life. But I can’t and won’t stop sharing my story for a few simple reasons.

It all goes back to what I mentioned earlier. I couldn’t find a blog that talked about what I wanted to read, ARFID- an eating disorder SO NEW to the DSM that most doctors don’t know how to treat, it let alone what it is. In fact, you can forget about anyone outside of the immediate community having any knowledge of ARFID either. ARFID patients have been given a disservice for too many years and it’s not okay. If I can have a hand in pushing the 10,000 ton bolder up the mountain, then I’m in. And I will be the first one to volunteer to roll up my sleeves and push.

I can’t stop sharing my story since I opened my mouth due to all of the amazing people who have reached out to me. Contrary to popular belief-not all millennials are internet gurus. I, myself, am one of those millennials who is not an internet guru. My blog reached the number of people it did because I used the tools provided to me through Word Press and shared the link on my personal, business and blog Instagrams. Even with those limited tools, I somehow managed to reach people in need of this message-a woman who I have known for years and had no clue she struggled with ED, a new friend on Instagram who told me she believes that God spoke to her through me, a teacher who had a student in her class two years ago and now understands their struggles a little more, and a bright young lady fighting though her journey JUST LIKE ME.

In the past year and a half, since I began my recovery, I have only been able to say these words a handful of times and truly mean them. I am proud of myself. I am my biggest critic, I set unrealistic expectations, spew negative words all over my self-esteem, and very rarely speak kindly of myself outside of direct intention. I know that goes hand-in-hand with my eating disorder, but it’s not healthy for me to have passive role in the mental hurricane that is stirring at my eating disorder and my spirit.

Lastly, I can’t (and won’t) stop writing my story is because I owe it to myself. This blog has accidentally become a valuable tool in my recovery. I never realized the therapeutic potential behind the journaling of my own thoughts and past experiences. I spent my 24 years of my life pushing and repressing past memories that were tainted by my disorder. And because of this, I haven’t had the chance to completely process them in a healthy way. There is a big difference between Cassie at age 6-struggling and being triggered with foods even categorized as “safe”-and Cassie at age 24. Not only do I have a better understanding of the ARFID monster, but I now have the resources to turn to when fights are too big for me.

I wanted to take this last part of my post to thank you. I want to thank every single one of you for your kindness and support. Whether you were one of those who reached out and sent me kind words, or you are only reading this, or liking my post, please accept my most heart-felt thank you, and a virtual hug.

 

Written by Cassie Ann Cando
Edited by Lynnette Alonso Capote

My Eating Disorder Controlled My Life For 23 Years

CAUTION TRIGGER WARNING

For 23 years I wasn’t in control of my life. The worst part was, like many people, I didn’t know that I wasn’t in control. My eating disorder, also known as ED, dictated everything. How much I could eat, what I could eat, what wasn’t “safe” and so many other things. I missed dinners, birthday parties, school trips, vacations and so many opportunities because of my eating disorder. The worst part about the whole thing was that no one, not even the long list of doctors I had gone to as a kid, could put a name on my eating disorder or even identify that it existed. My poor mother lived in agony along with me blaming herself as I did me.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Also known as ARFID. We were the best of friends my entire life. ED kept me safe, or so I thought. The most abusive relationship in my entire life was going on inside of my head. For those of you who don’t know about this eating disorder, it doesn’t always find its roots by controlling your calorie count, your dress size, or even making you purge your food. ARFID is one of the newly recognized eating disorders in the DSM as of 2013. This means that growing up, I was labeled the “picky eater” and I was shamed and blamed for my decisions at the dinner table because everyone assumed they were in my control. I hated myself. With a roaring passion. I blamed myself for gagging and throwing up when I smelled something I wasn’t comfortable with or touched something that my eating disorder labeled repulsive. It was a fight I was having with myself every day with no ground ever gained. Like climbing a muddy hill in the rain, I felt hopeless and like I would never see the other side.

Throughout my childhood I did manage to add a few items to my menu of approved “safe foods” but it was the absolute most difficult and daunting task. My safe foods to start out were fries, chips, pizza with no cheese, and fruit. I remember how proud I was when I was in 1st grade and my teacher and I would eat a spoonful of peanut butter every morning before the rest of the kids would come in. Mrs.Black was the first teacher I had that knew something was off with my eating and wanted to help. It’s people like her that made me feel somewhat normal and loved even though I was different. My teacher in 5th grade had a garden that we would grow together as a class. She helped me find the courage to try a salad. We grew it together in our garden. I had played an integral part in my nourishment from start to finish. Ms.Lopez will always have a special place in my heart and in my early recovery because she believed in me before I did. I was 13 when I decided I wanted to like cheese on my pizza. I was so determined to at least eat 1 kind of food like a normal human. It took a long time but I did it.

But that’s pretty much where the progress ended. I continued through my school years until college, completely unknowing of what had deep roots controlling me. My best friend, Kristina, one day showed me an article about SED (Selective Eating Disorder) which is called ARFID today. I will never forget how excited she was to show me that there were other people in the world who felt what I felt. And I will never forget the tears that welled up in my eyes as I realized for the first time that I was not crazy. From then on, her and my mother helped me find resources talking about the new type of eating disorder. I called so many therapists in the area that had the words “specializes in eating disorder treatment” under their name. One by one I called, spoke to an assistant or a therapist, and learned that they didn’t treat my kind of eating disorder. Some of them didn’t even know what ARFID was. I was so discouraged and heartbroken I felt alone again. All of the feelings of hope were almost completely washed away when I called the woman who is my therapist now. She had the most cheerful voice. Like a little bird. I shakily asked about her experience with eating disorder patents and about ARFID. When she chimed, “Oh I actually specialize in ARFID,” I couldn’t help but sob my entire heart out because I finally found someone who could help me. The person I had grown to hate for my entire life.

Sitting in her office for the first time talking about my eating disorder had to be one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. I remember very clearly that session. I wrote a list of foods that I didn’t eat and explained my eating habits to her. Just those simple tasks sent me into a massive panic attack. My stomach lurched, my head spun, and my ribs felt like they had shrunk, choking me from the inside by suffocating my lungs. I lost feeling in my legs and arms and the whole room felt like a sauna. A bright sauna. It was almost like the colors were being sucked right out of the room. All because we were talking… just talking about my eating disorder.

It took me a long time to go through some basic steps in treatment. Even saying the word eating disorder made my tongue thick. But here I am, a year and a half later speaking to you. Writing this for complete strangers to read in hopes that someone out there learns that they’re not alone in this journey with ARFID or any other eating disorder that you may struggle with. It doesn’t even have to have a name. Your relationship with food, your nourishment, is so important to your health. Not just physical, but mentally and spiritually too. Today I know that ARFID doesn’t control me. It will not break me. And I will continue to fight every day for the rest of my life, no matter how long it takes. Because I, am worth it.

A Boss Ladies Guide To Manifestation

Hey Boss Lady! If you’re reading this, you’re already so much farther ahead than you think. Everyone has felt overwhelmed and defeated at times and I am the first person to admit it when I feel it. Sometimes, it happens A LOT.

I want to share the 5 things that I have implemented in my life so you can do the same and feel the same! So here is my Boss Lady Guide to Manifestation so you can rule your own boss lady life. Because there is room for EVERYONE to rise to the top.

Clear the clutter!

Yes ma’am I am talking about the negativity! Boss Ladies don’t have time for those negative Nancy’s when they’re manifesting their dreams. Start eliminating negativity from your life because that negativity will seep into your energy and siphon it like a Dyson vacuum. Sometimes, this is harder than you might think. It’s easy to unfollow some Instagram accounts and to let go of some negative thoughts but it’s not as easy to eliminate or block out some negative people in your life. This is going to be the one that might take some time and effort but at the end of it, you’ll notice that you have so much more energy when you do!

See it, Dream it, Believe it!

This is where it gets fun! Okay so we all sometimes fall into the trap of comparison and wonder, ‘Why haven’t I been able to achieve what she has?’ or ‘Why aren’t I that good at cleaning my house?’ Change those comparison thoughts girl! Turn your negative comparison thoughts into a see it, dream it, believe it! I’ll give you a small example. You see that YouTube personality who always has the most fashionable and clean house. Before you compare yourself and your house and start bashing yourself, start dreaming it. Dream about your beautiful clean house and how amazing it would be to accomplish your goal! Envelop that dream, add as many details as you can. I even want you to image the sparkle and shine of your floors or the reflection of yourself in those windows! Or for my pet owners, a fur-free couch! Lastly, you have to believe it! In yourself, in the dream, in your ability to pursue any task ahead of you, because you can. I believe you can, because you’re already taking time out of your day to read about manifestations and how to make them happen for you!

Chill!

Manifestation takes time, patience, and hard work! But you have to have the patience with yourself, and the universe sometimes. My favorite way to chill is to literally relax. Focus my mind on something that makes me happy and concentrate my energy on self-care. For those of you who follow me on instagram you’ll know that my word for 2019 is Kindness. Specifically to myself because I am the meanest and most unforgiving person when it comes to me. So, personally this is probably the hardest part of the manifestation process. Remember when we talked about clearing the negative clutter? Yup, this is another amazing way to do so! So make a list of your favorite self-care ideas. Maybe it’s taking a bath, going for a walk, meditating, reading a book, exercising, ANYTHING is on the table if it makes you and your soul happy.

Trust God or The Universe

Whichever one! I am Catholic so for me, it means to trust God. Let go and let God. But I know that that isn’t the case for some people so I want you to trust The Universe. Stay with me, I know it sounds funny because when I first heard it I thought, what are we hippies now? But I am choosing to be positive, I am choosing to believe and I am choosing to TRUST in the higher power I have always chosen to trust. And the best part about this one is the fact that you don’t have to decide who you are trusting. It doesn’t have to be this long drawn out journey into what you believe or don’t believe. As they said it best in my favorite Christmas movie, The Santa Clause “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.”

Find your Boss Lady Crew

This is my favorite one because THESE LADIES ARE MY FUEL! I am telling you, there is not a day where I am discouraged for more than 5 minutes because I know that no matter what problem or bump in the road I find, I have quite a few boss ladies who I can text or call who will immediately answer and shower me with love. They have been what has gotten me through those difficult moments lately. With them I feel like I can conquer more than Beyonce can in a day and still have time to clean out my closet. I have been more productive in the past month than I have been in the last year. Why? Because my team and I are SO amazing at manifesting the life and goals that we want and it all started with a bottle of shampoo. So if you haven’t found your tribe of boss ladies, FIND THEM FAST! Or, you can join mine! There’s always room for more positivity.

You can find me everyday on Instagram @bossladyblogger Looking forward to seeing you again!