Netflix’s New Movie: To The Bone

Netflix recently released the trailer for a new movie that will be available to stream this July. It’s called To The Bone, and it’s about a girl with anorexia nervosa. Since being released, the trailer has begun appearing more and more frequently on my Facebook newsfeed. Each time it’s popped up, I’ve told myself to ignore it. I’ve tried to shove it out of my head and keep it out of my mind… But that’s gotten harder to do the more people hear about it, and subsequently, repost, retweet, hashtag, and comment on it. I know that as time goes on, and especially once it’s available to stream, it’s going to come up even more frequently, and people will be talking about it. Just like they did with 13 Reasons Why.

I know there are a lot of different opinions about the show 13 Reasons Why, and I’m sure there are going to be a lot about To The Bone as well. I’m not going to try to convince you of which “side” you should be on, of whether it’s helpful and raising awareness, or triggering and should be taken off the internet. I’m just going to share my perspective as someone who has spent a good portion of her life struggling the disorder being dramatized as Netflix’s newest movie.

Last night, after having scrolled past the To The Bone trailer probably 50 times, I gave in. I watched the trailer. And I so wish I could undo it. The first snippet from the film shows the main character, played by actress Lily Collins, calorie counting, compulsively exercising, and weighing herself. Classic eating disorder behaviors. Behaviors I know all too well, and that I really, really didn’t need to watch play out in front of me.

I didn’t watch the entire trailer, and I know that I can’t fairly judge the movie unless I do so. I won’t, and I don’t need to. I don’t care to judge the entire movie, I just want to talk about the things I do know from the parts I did see.

My initial thoughts after watching it were, “No.” No no no no no no no. No, I did not want this to be a movie. No, I did not want this to be on Netflix, accessible to me or anyone else  whose struggled with the life-threatening mental illness. No, I didn’t want it to be “glamorized” for younger viewers, or for anyone, really, who could watch it and get ideas on “how to become anorexic.”

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this on here before, but something I find myself struggling with a lot in my recovery, is possessiveness of my eating disorder. A big (big, big, BIG) part of my eating disorder was a type of “frozen dessert” called Arctic Zero. My mom now jokes about it, saying “Yeah, ZERO flavor!.” It’s a diet ice cream (if you can even call it “cream,” since there’s none in it!) that’s very low in calorie and even lower in flavor. But for me, during my disorder, it was a god-send. It got me through days when I hadn’t allowed myself to eat anything else, because I could eat that entire pint of ice cream, for only 150 calories. It’s still very triggering to me, to this day.

There’s a competing brand of ice cream called Halo Top. It’s been around for a while, but has become trendy in the recent year. It’s also triggering for me, for the same reason: it’s a diet ice cream, and it takes me back to that dark time of my disorder. Ironically, I never allowed myself to eat Halo Top because it was a whopping 240 calories for the whole pint. That’s less than a single one of my three snacks now, not to mention the additional three meals I eat each day! I’ve very intentionally stayed away from both Arctic Zero and Halo Top since being in recovery. I won’t even walk past them in the grocery store; they just bring up too many bad memories. With Halo Top becoming more popular in the recent year, however, it’s become harder to stay away from. I can still remember the first time I opened the freezer at my house in Corvallis and saw a pint of Halo Top, staring back at me. One of my roommates had bought it. She didn’t know what it meant to me; how would she? Nevertheless, I called my mom crying, overcome with emotions of sadness, frustration, and jealousy.

Jealousy? You may be wondering if that’s really what I meant. I can assure you, it is. It might sound silly, but it’s true. My mom’s compared my feelings around Arctic Zero and Halo Top to that of a jealous ex-girlfriend. That’s my special food. It was my saving grace. How dare you try to steal that from me? I can’t have it anymore, and now you get to?! (Trust me, I realize how dumb this sounds!).

Anyway, back to last night. I watched the first part of the trailer, and immediately felt like a knife was being twisted through my small intestines. That jealous feeling was back. wanted to be Lily Collins. wanted to tell this story. wanted to be able to tell it my way, and I wanted it to be done right.

My feelings during and after watching the trailer took me back to a time when I made the mistake of reading an excerpt from a book my mom was reading, when I was in treatment the first time (at age 15). The book is called “Brave Girl Eating,” and it’s excellently written. The author, Harriet Brown, wrote it about her experience going through anorexia recovery with her daughter. While it contains incredibly detailed content that is undoubtedly potentially triggering, it was written with the intent of being a resource for parents of children with eating disorders, or really, I guess, for anyone wanting more insight into what someone recovering from anorexia nervosa is experiencing. For me, however, reading the few pages I did sent me into a tailspin. That might’ve been my first panic attack ever, I’m not sure, but I vividly remember lying on the stairs, where I’d found the book, hands over my ears, eyes closed, bawling. All of the memories I’d been trying so hard to keep out of my head came flooding back, it was like I was reliving the darkest of my eating disorder days.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean the book shouldn’t have been published. It doesn’t mean it’s not a great book, and an incredible resource.

It simply means that I’m not the audience.

I think that this show, if done well, has the ability to be a great resource. I think it could inform people, and hopefully steer them away from playing around with the number one cause of death by mental illness. I won’t be watching it, and that’s okay. I don’t need to. I’ve lived it.

Something I’m learning more and more as I go through recovery, is that just because something is not good for me, doesn’t mean it’s not good.

I’m part of a fairly strong E.D. recovery community on Instagram. There’s been a lot of talk about this show in the recent week, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with this viewpoint. I’ll have to thank my conversation with my mom for that one. I’ve seen people write, “How dare they put out content that’s so triggering?” and “What kind of twisted person could stand to watch a show like that?” and so on and so forth.

The word, “triggering,” is thrown around a lot nowadays. I realized, when thinking further about this matter, that I was being quite hypocritical. I hate when people are overly-concerned with triggering others. I don’t want to sound too harsh here and say a blanket statement that I think everyone should just “grow a thicker skin,” but as a rule of thumb, that is more along the lines of my opinion. How can I say that, though, if I don’t believe that when it’s actually something that applies to me?

I realized, today, that if I say this show shouldn’t be allowed to air, I’m being that person that I get so frustrated with. I’m being the one who needs to be protected, who’s saying, “You can’t do that, because it affects me.” I don’t want to be that person. I’m working on realizing that my issue shouldn’t become everyone else’s issue, and that’s hard. It would be a lot easier if the entire world was a safe place where nothing anyone did ever adversely affected anyone else. Unfortunately, that’s not reality, and that is something that I will continue to work through.

On another note, my blog was chosen this week as one of the Top 100 eating disorder blogs on the internet, and I was given a cool badge to display on my page 🙂 So, if you’re wondering what caused the change in my site’s appearance, that’s it! The old layout didn’t have a spot where I could display the badge, so I decided to change it up a bit.

 

-Bridge

 

The Best Year Yet

On Thursday I said, “Goodbye,” to the house I’ve lived in since last June. I’d never lived in a house with three other girls, or any other girls for that matter, before. It was a growing experience in so many ways.

I didn’t expect to cry when I left, but I did. There were so many emotions running through my mind. As I told one of my dearest friends, and roommate, Claire, while we said our goodbyes (although we did clarify…it’s not a goodbye, just a see-you-later!), as she’s graduating from Oregon State today, the four of us did so much more than just “live” together. We learned together, laughed together, and most importantly, loved together. She was quick to point out how much we grew together, too, and I’d have to agree. It’s really weird for me to think back to this time last year and where I was mentally. I feel like I’m a completely different person. We laughed when I pointed out that I think all summer last year, I had five things in the fridge at all times. Five things, and only five things. All summer. I ate the same breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack, all summer. For three months. That’s a lot of the same! Now, I’m getting better at switching things up, and when opportunities come up that push me out of my comfort zone, most of the time, I take them. It’s still not easy, but it doesn’t cause me to break out in panic, and the majority of the time, I even end up enjoying it! I’m learning more and more that life is better without my eating disorder.

My mom and I were running errands last night, and I got teary eyed at the check-out of Home Depot. It’s going to sound ridiculous, I know… But you know where they sell candies and things on the shelf next to the check-out? I saw Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix, and sunflower seeds, all sitting along the shelf. Claire’s favorite things! Oh, how I will miss her! And that’s such an incredible feeling. To have grown so close with someone that simply seeing their favorite treats will bring you close to tears. I’ve never had that before. I’ve had close friends, yes. Lots of them, actually! But there’s something about a roommate that’s different. They’re there all the time. Especially during such a transformative year for me. They were there after each appointment, when there were tears of sadness and tears of joy. They were there when I lost Rocky, when Bradley played his last football game (they actually came to that game!), when I had to have two hand surgeries in six months, when I didn’t think I could make it through one more week of anatomy and chemistry… They were there through all of it. To give pep talks, hugs, share in the sadness or rejoicing I was experiencing, and just to be a listening ear. This year, more than anything, I think I learned the value of relationships. The value of truly living life with someone, or multiple someones! The coolest thing about that, is that it’s the exact opposite of what an eating disorder wants. It’s often said in treatment, eating disorders thrive in secrecy. They desire seclusion, delusion, and anxiety and depression. There’s a reason I’ve never lived with roommates before this year, and it’s not because I just prefer to be independent. It’s largely been due to my E.D. I feel so blessed to have lived with girls who were such positive influences in my life. They were each so healthy, in their own way. Some ate “cleaner” than others, some worked out more, but all lived a life of balance. Each of them was down to grab pizza at 8 o’clock if someone offered it up, none of them were scared to try a bite of someone else’s food, each of them worked out because it made them feel good. I’d be silly to think that being surrounded each of these girls’ healthy mindsets wasn’t critical in helping me develop my own. I know that Jesus placed each of these girls in my life for a reason, and I am so much more thankful for that than I can put into words. So, Claire, Anna, and Molly… Thank you.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I’d sort of forgotten (I’m not a terrible daughter, I had gotten him a present…I just forgot about the typical celebration part!), and had planned to go out to a smoothie bar with my friend, Savannah. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while… Honestly, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years (!): Go to Kure and get a smoothie bowl. It’s a pretty trendy thing to do in Portland, and honestly, I think I’m the last one of my friends to have ever not had one…but due to E.D. reasons, I never have. I’d gone to Kure, twice. But never have I gotten a bowl (it’s a smoothie base, topped with granola). It was going to be a challenge for me, but I was up for it! Anyway, the plan was to go Sunday morning. Then, my mom reminded me about Father’s Day. Shoot. We proooobably should go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with my Dad. That was going to mean two challenge meals, basically back to back. Oh, and how had I forgotten? My mom and brother and I had made plans for a family friend to come over tonight to play games…and have dessert. Yeah, the D-word. Three things in 24 hours?!! Ohhhh boy.

You know what, though? I’m feeling up to it. And that’s the part that’s so cool about growth. Along the way, I didn’t notice how much each “challenge food” I’d done, each last minute things I’d said yes to, each “full-fat” thing I’d ordered, etc. thing was making me grow, but now I’m seeing the results of it. Am I still slightly stressed about the fact that I have all of these more difficult things coming up in such a short period of time? Yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s life. And more and more, I’m learning to embrace that.

In Him,

Bridge

 

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Until it’s Gone

There’s a well known quote, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I’ve always heard that quote in a negative context, as in: you don’t realize how much you’ll miss something until you don’t have it anymore. I’m beginning to see it in a way I never thought about it, though — that you don’t realize how bad something is, until the weight of it is removed from you.

As the veil of both my anxiety and depression are gradually lifting, I’m seeing the light at the end of this tunnel more and more. Little things are making me smile. I find myself laughing — not forcing a chuckle, but actually laughing — frequently.

I realized late this morning, after having had quite a few frustrating things happen, that I was still feeling okay. In fact, I was still feeling better than I can recall feeling at any point over the last few months (maybe year). It’s like I didn’t realize how bad my depression and anxiety were until I was no longer held captive by them. I didn’t realize that it was my depression that was causing me to take naps most days, not because I was tired, but because I didn’t want to sit through the torturous thoughts that would come through my head, from after I’d finished breakfast to when I had my snack, and then again from that time to when I’d later eat lunch. And on a really bad day, again from lunch on through dinner. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have to work so hard to smile, even when around people who used to make me truly happy. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to feel so drained of energy all the time, even when I’d gotten a full eight-hours of sleep the night before.

One of the hardest things in this recovery process is trusting. Those of us in treatment hear it all the time: Trust your team. Trust your dietician. Trust your psychiatrist. Trust your therapist. Trust your parents. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds! By trusting, we’re allowing one of the most important things in our lives, our eating disorder, to be taken out of our hands, and submitting to those who know better. There’s nothing they can tell us that’s reassuring enough. My team had told me many a time, “Trust us. It will get better.” And now, I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labor, the benefits of my trusting paying off. With that, I feel my trust I have for my team growing even stronger. I trust that they know what’s best for me, even if I don’t like it, and even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. I know that they have my best interest at heart, and I know that they’re walked this journey with other patients, too — patients who didn’t think it would get better, but for whom it did.

I’m stressed right now. Between going through training for my new summer job, finalizing details for my internship, studying for finals, still commuting Corvallis to Portland and back each weekend, etc., my plate is pretty full. But despite all of those things, I feel lighter. Not physically (my E.D. wishes!), but mentally and emotionally lighter. I don’t feel like I’ll snap if one more thing goes wrong, and I don’t feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning.

I did something challenging today. I got rid of about 50 pieces of clothing. Some of it will be sold, and the rest donated. My therapist has been encouraging me for a while to go through my closet and take out the clothes that are no longer fitting me, as they’re not serving any purpose besides reminding me that I’m gaining weight! The process of getting rid of clothes is challenging though. Not just because they no longer fit me, as I know that can be challenging for the average person as well, but because getting rid of them implies that I’m not going back to a weight where they will fit again. Ever. That sort of finality is scary, it means that I’m letting go of another layer of my eating disorder. As I shared on my recovery Instagram account (@balancedbridge), last week I said, “Goodbye,” to a pair of jeans that had a lot of emotional meaning to me. The quoted text below was how I captioned the photo.

Well, the day has come.
My body-checking jeans are officially too small.
My therapist has told me to get rid of this pair of jeans countless times, and I kept putting it off.
This morning, as I strained to pull them over my ever-growing thighs, I realized that the time had finally come. They are too tight.
It’s with great sadness that I say goodbye to these jeans. They’ve been with me through a lot. I told my therapist that I couldn’t get rid of them, because that symbolized really moving on from my eating disorder. I’ve used these jeans to body-check since I got them my senior year of high school. That’s four years. That’s a LONG time.
Today though, I am choosing recovery. Today, I’m moving forward. And today, I’m saying goodbye to these jeans 👋🏼

If you don’t know what body-checking is, it’s a term used in the E.D. community for measuring one’s body, and it’s always regarded in a negative way. For me, getting rid of the pair of jeans I’ve used to body-check (there were a few other items of clothing used for that as well, but I got rid of them when I was in the PHP program last year) is a pretty big step. I hope to never have to get rid of another item of clothes used for body-checking, as I hope to be ridding myself of that nasty habit.

I know I said I probably wouldn’t blog again before the end of the school year (and I meant it when I said it!), but it’s just such a great outlet for me! I decided to write a post because of today being celebrated worldwide as “National Eating Disorder Action Day.” If you want to read more about what this day means, click here.

 

If you’re reading this, thank you for supporting me and following my journey. Happy June, and I hope you’re able to enjoy this beautiful sunshine!

🙂 Bridge