Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2. Click here to read Part 3. Click here to read Part 4.

Maintenance and Healthy Living Ideas

This is the final part of this series on healing bulimia and addictive eating. The healing ideas I’ve written here are, again, ideas. Not steps. These are a few of the components I’ve adopted to maintain health, both mental and physical. They’re elements of my lifestyle after stopping the behavior of bulimia. Some of these ideas are the final stages of healing any addictive patterns. They are thoughts on living a whole and happy life, not just about bulimia.

Idea #14: Talking to Depression

One of the questions I received when I was a guest on the teleseminar on eating disorders was about depression, and whether or not I still battle with it, even after recovery. (Depression is a constant companion when you’re lost in bulimia.) The truth is that I don’t have depression anymore. This is not to say I don’t have bad days, which is why I wrote this blog. But I don’t call it depression anymore. In fact, I am adamant about not using that word. It has become a buzz-word in the collective unconscious, and the very word itself holds too much power over us. Since I’ve stopped using the word, very rarely do I actually feel depressed.

I’ve never taken anti-depressants. I’m glad of that. The alternative health world gave me lots of incentive not to go down the path of pharmaceuticals. On some levels, this made my path harder, in that I had to muck through lots of stuff without the palliative effect of anti-depressants. But I’m now actually grateful to myself for going that route. Even though it was hard work to make my way through depression, in the long run I had it easier because there was nothing else there to cover up the symptoms or the deepest parts of me that needed healing.

So, the beginning of the end of my depression happened when I decided to “talk to it.” At some point, I realized that because I’m a singer and because I’m very auditory, that I needed to do some “out loud” work.

When the depression thoughts and feelings started coming up, I’d get very clear and conscious, and I’d say aloud, “I just want you to know that your days are numbered. I hear you now. I certainly understand you. But I am now intending a life without this heaviness and without your voice. I want to be happy. I’m moving towards happiness, and I’m letting you know this. And I’ll keep letting you know it.”

And I did.

I prayed and did this “talking to depression” thing for about a year. I can’t say there was one day where I looked around and said, “Hey! It worked! It’s gone!” But I can say that this process led me to see my feelings with more clarity, and to stop labeling myself as a “depressed” person. And shifts happened.

Idea #15: Working with Discipline

I used to run from the word “discipline,” claiming “I was bulimic! I can’t handle that word!” It was an excuse, and it kept me stuck in the “story” of bulimia. (Addicts love to hold onto that story. It makes people and growth back off pretty quickly.) When I started to tell myself that I hadn’t been bulimic in many years, I realized that I needed to move away from that story and experiment with a few different growth ideas that I had avoided for so long. Discipline was one of them. I wrote a two part blog about it. Click here for Part 1. Click here for Part 2.

Idea #16: Dropping the Story

“Poor me, the addict.” “Poor me, the intense and emotional one.” “Poor me and all of my depression.” These are stories we tell ourselves. In her book The Diamond in Your Pocket, Gangaji talks about dropping these stories. Not in a cold mental way. But in an observing, loving way. Ask, “Is this true?” (“Is this true?” is also the first question of The Work, developed by Byron Katie.) It’s never true. That’s the thing. Try it with your emotions. The next time you’re really getting a good weepy attack, sit with it. Allow it. Let it come fully over you. Only this time, let it come without the story. Just feel the feeling. What you’ll probably find is that the feeling doesn’t go very far without the story hooked into it. If you lose the story, the emotion loses its power. It’ll go some distance, but not nearly the distance that the story of the emotion will take you. This is a powerful technique. You may not understand it at this point. Give it time. Start asking, “Is this true?” when you find yourself getting stuck in drama or heavy-duty emotion.

Idea #17: Taking Action

Writing an imperfect song. Drawing a drawing just because you love to draw. Getting an idea and actually pursuing it. Wanna end depression? Wanna heal things? Start acting on your desires. Affirming, praying, meditating, and visualizing are great beginnings. At some point, though, action is necessary. Take a step, any step. I know of no better way to heal things than simply beginning projects and processes.

One of the things that struck me about Stephen King’s book On Writing is that the difference between Stephen King and so many other writers is that Stephen King gets an idea and begins writing it. He doesn’t sit back and say, “Yea, well. I doubt it’ll work.” Taking action on ideas makes genius happen. Taking actions on ideas has taught me to get over fear, to get over myself, to have fun, to play a little, and to stop playing small. And the best thing: to stop expecting perfection.

Idea #18: Giving Up the Struggle

Do you believe that life is meant to be fun? Most of us don’t. We love the struggle. We love to get things the hard way. We pride ourselves on those scars and wounds and all the pain.

I used to get really upset with my boyfriend in college because he thought everything was fun and easy. And you know what? For him, it was. Money came easily. His amazing job came easily. His friends adored him. Yes, he had some challenges, but he rarely stayed stuck for long. This frustrated me to no end. I thought this made him shallow and a little stupid, perhaps. (He was valedictorian of the School of Management. He wasn’t stupid.)

Now, I see wisdom in effortlessness. I am over struggle. Some of us have gotten so addicted to it, that we can’t allow ease into our lives for a single moment. Open up to effortlessness. If you’re on my mailing list, then you’ve received my New Year’s mailing for the last two years encouraging people to stop doing resolutions and start picking a single word for the year. Pick “effortlessness.” Pick “ease.” Let go of the struggle. Just because you’ve come from a challenging past doesn’t mean that the world has to hear about it or read it on your face from here on out. In the book Ask and It is Given Esther Hicks uses the phrase, “the art of allowing.” Try allowing more and struggling less.

Idea #19: Making Health a Priority

I am discerning and care-full about how I eat. It is a top priority for me, even when I’m on the road. For your average person, this is just too much trouble. For someone who has had an eating disorder, this is just routine. I keep up a regimen of regular health care, regular exercise, and I take more time than most people to prepare great meals and eat them in a relaxed environment.

I watch my own behaviors around food. My own word for “appetizers” at parties is “nervous food” because I tend to eat them completely out of nervousness at the awkward beginnings of parties. I try to avoid forced socialization buffets. (Like at weddings, where a band is blasting “Blue Bayou” while the man across the table from you is shouting, “Where are you from?!” while stuffing gobs of shrimp dip in his mouth.) I don’t get militant about it. I simply observe, and, if necessary, excuse myself from a situation where my insides are weird. Or I’ll sit quietly and allow for a one-on-one conversation.

I’ll probably move beyond these needs at some point, but for now, I honor them.

I will probably continue other practices no matter what. I pay out of pocket for acupuncture. I pay higher prices for organic locally grown food. I take extra time for meals. In our speed and efficiency-driven society with all of its social expectations, this is not a popular route.

So be it. I spent way too many years trying to keep up with all of this stuff and contort myself to fit society’s values. Once I created my own and stuck with them – miracle of miracles – I found happiness.

Idea #20: Process, not perfection

“There’s no such thing as being done with an artistic life.” -Julia Cameron

Remember this: there is no there to get to. This is an on-going path. If you are bulimic or have been, you are so blessed to be learning and growing at this deep level. I hope this series has helped, or will continue to help, those of you who are quietly reading this blog and working through this issue. If you let your challenges teach you, they will. If you continue to ignore them and hope your life doesn’t have to change very much, then you’ll miss out on the magnificence and beauty that are available in the healing. Remember: the world always needs more healthy people!

25 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Robin

    I am in the middle of yet another lapse with my bulimia and have found much needed shift in perception and hope in your writings.
    Thank you so very much for making a difference in my life today.
    -Robin, 26 (year #10)

  • christine

    Hello Marna, Thanks for your honesty. Hey, don’t push yourself. It took me a long time to get to a place where I could actually say, “I want to do this no matter what.” I actually thought I needed to be bulimic and that there were simply no other options for me. Go slowly if you need to! The best email address for me is christine@christinekane.com. No one else will read it…

  • Marna

    Hi Christine,

    This is the first time i have stumbled onto your blog and I find it verrrrrrry interesting. It is much different advice than what I am used to hearing from my therapists. For that, I thank you. I am still in the process of recovering, but I also know I haven’t really 100% committed myself to it. Heck, I wouldn’t even read some parts of your blog because there are some realities I don’t wish to face. But I will some time. I have a question for you about faith that I would rather ask in an email than on the board. Can you email me, or direct me to the space on the site with the best email address to contact you? I looked in the contact links but I think those all go to your manager and publicist and such. I don’t mind going through them as long as I know you will get the reply eventually. Thanks!

  • Kathy

    Don’t know if you susbscribe or not but check out Dr. Northrup’s October article on “The Right Weight and How To Achieve it” at http://www.drnorthrup.com/eletter-current.php – best steps I’ve ever seen!! Fix the mind and you’ll heal the body.

  • Susanne

    Thanks for the book tip. Haven’t read Tolle yet. I’ll put it on my list. (Reading is something I always seem to get done…)

  • christine

    Wow Dave! Thanks so much. That was very kind of you. And thanks for paying full price for my CD! I’m glad you like it!

  • Nancy

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your experiences with us. I can’t wait to listen to your music!!!

  • Dblwyo

    O.K. let me go on a parallel topic. My favorite scifi author observes that real applause should occaisionally be green and folding. After listening to a couple of your on-line tracks my applause showed up in today’s mail courtesey of Amzn and at full price, too. 🙂 . So far marvelous. Don’t know if the comments trigger notices to you but other obs are over on your ‘music’ category, except this:

    You pick but having recently discovered her modern folk-rock with wonderful melodies and harmonies it a) reminded me of other World Cafe experiences, b) the great singer-songwriters of the past (Cat Stevens anyone) and seemed like someone c) who’d resonate with your listners.

    My suggestion to NPR’s “World Cafe” for what it’s worth. You never know.

  • christine

    (oops! I’ve gotten behind here this week!)

    Susan, That’s great. I’m glad you’ve been noticing that. It’s a subtle form of distraction. To watch without judgment or without getting pulled in is such a freedom!

    PTC… Okay then!

    Dave, Not off-topic at all. That IS what I’m saying. Eventually though, you get to leave behind the “bootstrap” part of the equation, and you get to be so present and aware that the healthy behavior just comes naturally because you literally don’t opt for any other way!

    Hi Kerry! Welcome! (good to “meet” you.) And thanks for your kind words.

    Hey Susanne, You’re welcome! Non-drama seems to be the thing here, huh? Have you read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth? I don’t know why… but it struck me to mention it to you.

  • Susanne

    Again thank you for your essay. I’m working on the easy-non-dramatic-part right now. But acknowledging that I’m suffering from a very mild form of bipolar disorder has been important for me for the past few month. For the first time ever I saw that there is a pattern to my strange black moods and phases of living in “overdrive”. So now I know that this is something to be taken seriously. But I also learned that I can avoid the really black mood when I’m careful.

    The “I’m a compulsive overeater”-story though I might have to let go, since I don’t do the binges anymore. Hurray!

  • kerry

    i’m so grateful to have found your site. your words are calming, clarifying, and feel like something tangible i can hold on to right now. thank you for pouring yourself out there in your blog like this. it matters to me.

  • Dblwyo

    Still working on assimilating all the consequences of this series and all the priors I’ve backtracked. Pardon me if this is off-track/topic but are you familiar with NPR’s “I Believe” essays ? Reviewing some of them this morning it struck me that it would be an interesting and powerful exercise to compress some of your thinking – even if in actuality it took a ‘few’ to capture the main threads. I’ve tried it myself and found it a valuable forcing function.

    But behind that it strikes me that one interpretation of what you’re saying is that we all have addictive behaviors that we unconsciously acquired as coping tools. Or as fallbacks to find ground to stand on. And the challenge is first to arrest bad behaviors, find good ground to stand on, unhook ourselves from the triggers and then find the activities, actions and thoughts that help us bootstrap out to healthy, conscious lives and choices.

    Again sorry it that’s off-topic and/or not where you’d want to go. It reflects my efforts at translating to more familiar tools. But what I love and truly admire about your writings is that it shows me/us that we can in fact boostrap ourselves up and away from bad behaviors toward good ones. My notion is that we, your readers, could use the drafting of such an essay in our own terms but reflecting your guidelines as tools to check-in from time-to-time with ourselves and buildout future steps.

  • Palmtreechick

    You’re welcome. I will let ya know.

  • Susan

    Hi Christine,
    What has stuck me most in this blog and in a couple past blogs is your suggestion to not get caught up in the drama, or to stop being hookable. I have been conciously paying attention to the drama in lives around me that pull me down, cover me with dirt and suffocate me. I at times let it take over my life. Your blogs have made me think before getting sucked in and pulled down.

  • Susie

    Hey Christine,
    What a great series. Aside from all of the great suggestions, just knowing that there is someone like you that cares so deeply about others going through various issues is very supportive and encouraging in the healing process. So I’m sure I speak for many when I say thank you for all of the time and consideration and honesty that you’ve put into this series…I’m sure it’s helping many!

    I’m glad to hear that you didn’t use anti-depressants as I believe anti-depressants just distract your feelings from the real issues. Pharmaceuticals might “fix” but they don’t necessairly heal and once you start using the anti-depressants, it’s hard to fully recover when you stop using them (in other words, your happiness shouldn’t be dependent upon drugs). They might help the process of healing, but ultimately, the goal is to live happily without them.

  • christine

    PTC, Let me know how it works! Thanks for the kind words…

    Hi Dave, Thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad this series touched you even without an eating disorder! Great quote, too…

  • Dblwyo

    This has been a great post though this last will take, as the whole set does, some contemplation and careful, conscious consideration. Thank you for sharing it and taking the energy necessary to craft it. The Path you’re walking, and laying out for us, is an interesting one. Interesting is so insufficient but does for now – encouraging as well because one take-away for me is that we can all learn to arrest negative behaviors and build our own paths. Meanwhile, as I keep wrestling with translation, may I share something that seemed both valuable and insightful to me ?

    “What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for thiswhat none may hinder, what is surely in my powerthat I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of lifeĶ.”
    Epictetus from the Enchiridion

  • Palmtreechick

    Can’t wait to try idea #16. Hopefully i won’t need to use it too soon. As far as life being fun and easy. I’m all for that. I just need to find a way to make it MORE fun and EASIER!! 🙂

    Thanks for another great post!