tides of December.

It’s been a month since I wrote last, and as usual, much has happened in the past month.

I have another part-time job. This makes three. My boyfriend got the dream full-time job. We have this thing called stability, and that’s weird, because I’m still transitioning from the academic world to the working grind.

I see a lot of clients everyday. It feels like an assembly line of therapy at times, and I’m too new in this field to think that way. But it scares me. Being unable to divvy my full attention to each individual simply because I have so many. Of course, I am still underpaid and overworked. And, of course, mental health is completely underfunded and underrepresented in nearly all sectors of healthcare.

But, I digress.

I know what I do is important, and I know what I do is meaningful. In addition to my children and adolescents, I’m now working with some really difficult clientele right now. The majority of them suffer from chronic pain or traumatic injury. The depression and anxiety is skyrocketed for nearly everyone I see.

I think hopelessness is the hardest symptom of all, and I think that only because I know what it’s like to experience that feeling myself. I know what it’s like to hate hearing anyone else tell you it can be any other way. Because, in your mind, it can only be hopeless. Because, to accept anything other than hopelessness means risking accepting a change you may not like. Hopelessness, in a paradoxical way, feels safer. It is a cushion of certainty, a guarantee that prevents us from the fear of crashing of burning.

The holiday season always arises mixed emotions for me. I am closer to my parents now that I have moved out of their home. Time with them is cherished and appreciated, rather than met with annoyance and angst. Yet, I tend to struggle with body image around this time of year, only because holidays center on food and food and more food.

And, I can use all the positive affirmations and visualizations and deep breathing I want, but there is still the five-hundred pound gorilla in the room that is masquerading as sprinkled cupcakes, and when my attention is on that, it’s hard to focus on anything else.

As I’ve said so many times before, it’s safer to focus on the craziness of the eating disorder rather than the craziness of the unpredictable day-to-day existence we live in. The eating disorder makes sense and it’s in my control. Nothing else is. Nothing else is. Nothing else is.

Nothing is in my control.
Nothing is in your control, either.
And, depending on perspective, that can be petrifying or liberating.

the future of eating disorders

Today was long.

First day seeing clients at a new job. Without revealing too much information, the population is vastly different from the one I’m used to at my other agency. It’s also time-limited, brief therapy, which isn’t exactly my favorite. But it’s kids and adolescents, which I enjoy, especially the junior high kiddos.

I wonder what my life would have been like if I went to therapy when I was younger. My parents don’t really believe in it. They’re more along the lines of “getting over it” and just “thinking about the positive,” which, as a mental health professional, terrifies me. No parent should ever be ashamed of their child needing psychotherapy. It’s like being ashamed of needing to go to the dentist or doctor.

The stigma may be lessening over time, but it’s still there, and it’s still devastating.

Recovery stuff has been good, however I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past few days, which throws me off track. This is the ebb and flow though, and it’s okay.

I’ve been seriously researching this eating disorder recovery work, and I truly think I can make a difference in the systemic approach we have. I have several ideas and am writing extensive literature reviews on the research that already exists.

Most of it frustrates the hell out of me.

For one, I’m tired of overpriced services. For two, I’m tired of high relapse rates. For three, I’m tired of the overall unwillingness to work with a population that DESPERATELY needs help.

I have a vision, and I am set on following it. Maybe it won’t manifest today or this month or this year, but it WILL happen because I know I have the drive, motivation, and creativity to achieve it. I also know how important it is in this society.

It’s something I wish I had when I was deep in the disorder. I want to revolutionize the private practice vs. treatment center recovery plan (which are both extremely expensive), and I want to be able to help re-define a realistic recovery for people who are suffering. I want to be able to reach to those who may NOT be upper-class or even insured. I want to be able to reach to those who cannot afford to do inpatient or residential work. I want to RAISE AWARENESS to this epidemic that is happening in our schools, to our children, in the bathroom stalls, on the plates of people everywhere.

Some would say it’s dangerous because I’m in recovery myself. And I would agree. But you know, it’s worth the risk. Because life isn’t just about helping myself. It’s about using WHAT I’ve learned to help myself to help the greater good. So maybe it’s dangerous, but nothing worthwhile ever happened while staying in a comfort zone. I want to bridge this gap between clinical jargon and actual application. I want to reach out to the bleak and hopeless, the ones who feel they have failed over and over again. I want to change the way we perceive these diagnoses.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do.


I have issues with most of the standard “theories” relative to eating disorder treatment.

CBT is a decorative bandaid, DBT is hard to find and difficult to buy into, psychoanalysis is too expensive, and group therapy leaves little room for in-depth personal exploration. Family therapy has high efficacy, but typically, it’s geared towards adolescents, and typically, it’s for wealthier and more motivated families.

Oh, that and most non-profit agencies and college campuses REFUSE to treat eating disorders. Which leaves everyone with: private practice.

Which is no small fee.

What’s happening with me is that I’m developing my own.

I’ve been researching. I’ve been writing. I’ve been thinking and talking outside the box. Using my own experience and my own therapy modality to guide me.

Maybe it’ll go somewhere someday. Actually, no. IT WILL GO SOMEWHERE SOMEDAY.

I’m tired of eating disorders being that “lifelong” illness. I’m tired of high relapse rates. I’m tired of the stigmatization, the broken medical model, the in-and-out recovery, the refusal to work eating disordered patients because they are too “high risk,” the utter lack of funding we have for individuals in lower to middle-class income brackets, and, of course, the fallacy that a disorder as complex as these can be solved with a thought record or a positive coping strategy. I’m tired of anorexia being the most fatal illness and the third highest leading cause of death for adolescents. I’m tired of people neglecting bulimia and binge eating as “crisis issues” because it may not be as physically apparent.

We need more. We need so much more.

There is research. Lots and lots of articles and brilliant professors in laboratories researching neurobiology and possible eating disorder treatments. Great. There are clinicians. Lots and lots of clinicians in residential facilities and private practices.

But there is a gap. There is not enough. The theories are weak. The treatment is difficult. The prognoses are poor.

Inspiration struck last week. My diploma arrived yesterday.

Who knows what will happen from here?

But if someone needs to do it, why not me?

continued changes and transitions

I’m just kind of in this weird transitional funk where life feels like it is slipping through my fingers and the changes are overwhelming and I’m drowning in a sea of uncertainty.

Feeling all the feels, and I don’t typically like feelings. I like numbing feelings instead. But experiencing them is an entirely different experience, one that I’m still learning how to master. 

I’m going to be leaving the agency I started working at a year ago in about six weeks. I already told two clients– I have three more difficult ones (meaning long-term clients who I have very strong rapport with) to break the news to. I hate this. I knew it would be difficult, but I’m struggling to shake off the sinking thought that I am letting people down, that I am just another disappointment in a string of rejection and abandonment. This sadness is different given that the therapeutic relationship is probably the only relationship both client and therapist enter knowing that it will end. It still hurts. Goodbyes are very hard, even on the other side of the couch.

I don’t know where I’m going to be living in the next few months. I have no idea what this new job actually entails (except that it involves at-risk adolescents and involves briefer, more solution-focused as opposed to my more traditional, insight-oriented therapy). I’m stressed about money. I’m stressed that I’m not doing enough. My inadequacies and insecurities keep cropping up, and everyday feels like an emotional swing.

The rock and anchor of all this, of course, is my loving boyfriend, but even that has had its own set of challenges, as we both try and maneuver and develop our own professional paths while simultaneously designing our relationship path. Thankfully, we are on the same page, and we keep each other sane and happy.  He’s doing a lot of great work, and the competitive and controlling side of me that gets jealous (since we are in the same line of work). It makes me question whether I am capable, whether I am doing enough, whether I will succeed or not.

I want to do a million things. I want to write. I want to go into private practice. I want to research. I want to see adolescents. I want to see adults. I want to pioneer new types of therapy. I want to become an expert on certain models. I want to get increased training. I want to work with eating disorder clients. I want to brand myself as a label. I want to make money. I want to get my name out there. I want to help people- above all and through it all, that’s the main one. 

Without the cushion of school to catch me, I now feel immersed in this strange land called adulthood, and even though I’ve been existing in this realm for several years, it has only felt like pseudo reality. There is always the, “I’m a student” excuse to make up for lack of money, full-time work, professional success, etc.

And I’m being impatient with myself. And hard on myself. I recognize this. I’m doing more than anyone I know my age, and I’m one of the only students in my cohort to have landed a job (even though it is part-time and very low-paying) BEFORE even completing my program all the way. I want to be more grateful for all that is GOING WELL, rather than focusing on what I cannot control and what is making me stressed.

It’s easier said than done.

I do feel overwhelmed, and this usually motivates me to go out and fight, but right now, this is making me feel somewhat frozen. I’m not sure what my next step is. Boyfriend keeps telling me to practice acceptance; he is right in saying that things will get better, that I am competent and will kick ass in this work, but acceptance of the journey is key.

I know this. I do know this in my flesh and bones, but it’s still hard. It’s really painful to doubt yourself and worry that the rest of the world is speaking some language you don’t know, that you are on the outside looking in, that you won’t get your chance to shine when you’ve been working so hard for it.

Self-doubt runs deep.

The good news is that I haven’t engaged in my eating disorder. The good news is that I’m talking and expressing and seeking support. Feelings are intense, but they pass. They pass, they pass, they pass. 


and there is life

I feel guilty for my semi-abandonment of this blog.

What used to be such a lifesaving crutch has become just a faint thought in the back of my mind, something I tell myself I should do, something that has become more of a chore, rather than a gushing desire to just write, write, write. 

I tell myself that this is not a bad thing. That I am evolving in different ways; that I no longer need to hide behind a computer screen to express the pain and feelings I experience. That I now have some other outlets that I feel safe with. That I can talk more about what I used to only be able to write about.

Everything is so weird now. I finished my last EVER class, and having been a student my entire life, I’m still in relative denial that I won’t be enrolling in another full semester of courses this fall. I have two jobs now and an internship. My boyfriend has a job and an internship and another possibility in the works. We may be moving.

It’s going fast, fast, fast.

Suddenly, talk has shifted to budgeting and career planning and licensure hours.

Suddenly, life has felt very grown-up.

Suddenly, I have a new plan everyday for what I want to do and who I want to become.

Suddenly, I just keep feeling all the feels.

Embracing them is hard. It’s so much easier- in the short-term- to just escape into my predictable chaos, which is the eating disorder. Focus on my weight instead of my character. Focus on the number-crunching instead of the job applications. Make myself feel good with a binge just to relieve the edge, the anxiety, the pressure I often self-induce.

I am used to following a specific path. I am used to 5-year tracks and mapped-out classes and work schedules. I am used to structure and living in limbo, waiting for the next step…I am used to being “in progress” of something. I am used to filler jobs. I am used to doing what it takes to sacrifice my present in order to have a successful future.

And is the future here now? Because there certainly isn’t a path paved for me. There’s a million paths now, and maybe there have always been a million, but it’s the first time I actually SEE a million.

Nobody is telling me what to do or where to go. I have to make my own, big-girl decisions.

The eating disorder always feels easier, and, paradoxically, it never is. It’s the same irony as wanting to be the thinnest, most delicate person in the room while being allowed to binge and eat all the most glorifying foods in whatever capacity I want. It’s wanting the dialectic–it’s wanting something that is literally and scientifically impossible to have.

So, I don’t know where this blog will go. And maybe that’s because I don’t know where life will go.

But that’s all okay.

I tell myself that. I have to hold onto that positivity, as sugarcoated and glossy as it sometimes sounds…those affirmations work the more I practice them.


cha cha changes.

Life, I’m always reminded, is defined by mere moments. By spurts of opportunity and rare offerings that suddenly change the entire course of action.

Things are happening. And they seem to be happening quickly and intensely.

In a few hours, I have a job interview for a counseling position I haphazardly applied to, without thinking much of anything. And they seem to really like me. I’m feeling really confident about it.

On Friday, my old therapist-YES THAT ONE- contacted me. Asking if I would potentially be interested in working for an eating disorder residential facility running groups and providing individual psychotherapy, and could I send her my resume- she’d like to pass it to the CEO? 

That’s obviously a different story, and all the weird transference and feelings about her and this opportunity will be addressed later. 

On Friday, my boyfriend met with a psychologist in private practice who is looking for interns. She loved him (no surprise) and now he is thinking of taking that opportunity. The kicker is that it’s about one and a half hours away. We’d be moving from my cushiony Southern California hometown into the jungle maze that is Los Angeles.

I’ve never moved.

My job opportunities are down here. My internship is down here. My current job that I’m working at (which is just to supply some income) is down here. I’d leave everything I know and start over fresh. This is terrifying; it is also exciting. 

We have the world on our shoulders, and yet, I wasn’t prepared for any of this. 

I love my boyfriend. I love him more than I thought I could possibly love another person, and I always use the phrase that relational health remains strong when the we comes before the me. This is a prime example of this. Figuring out budgeting, figuring out living accommodations, figuring out how to be a grown-up in a professional world I don’t necessarily feel equipped to deal with…

None of this is a rehearsal. None of this is a trial or a practice run. This is real life- this is it. Right here, right now, in this moment…

I have everything I ever wanted- the career I envisioned, a supportive and loving boyfriend, opportunity…

And yet, there is reluctance. And fear. And skepticism and doubt and the activation of those core beliefs, I’m not good enough and I’m not going to make it. 

There is the desire for movement and change and risk with the apprehension that the novelly will somehow destroy what I am preciously holding onto now.

I am a therapist. My job is to push people from their comfort zones, to expand their horizons, and to encourage them to take risks they may have not wanted to take before. That is where the magic and growth lies.

All of this– it’s overwhelming. But I’m going to make it. Because this is where I’m supposed to be and this is what I’m supposed to do.  

treat yo selves.

Dear Bee, 

On Thursday, I treated myself. As in, I went on a date. With myself. Hokey-dokey, new-age, love-thyself pseudoscience aside, it was amazing.

Yesterday, I had a seven hour comprehensive exam that basically determines whether or not I graduate from my program. I’ve spent a semester studying for this test, hours and hours of writing papers and treatment plans and memorizing that little book we call the DSM. I think I did well, but I won’t know my results for a few weeks.

The day before, rather than cram my life away, I just did self-care. Took the entire day off. Cannot remember the last time I did that. 

Here’s what happened: Woke up, did a twenty-minute guided meditation, did about 40 minutes of flow yoga, went to the wetlands by the beach and went on a wonderful, mindful walk under the California sun, bought myself lunch and ate it outside, and then got myself a massage. Whole day cost approximately $30. And I was worth every single dollar. 

I was just so touch with my inner body. The meditation, the yoga, the feeling of the warm skies beating down my back, the firm hands rubbing and caressing my body. I could just feel the stress escaping from my pores. And I was FUCKING STRESSED.

Everyone deserves a day like this. And it doesn’t have to cost much, if anything. It’s not about having the time- it’s about having the priority. 

I went into that test feeling rested and prepared. And even though it was draining and challenging and a complete toll on both my mental and probably physical health, I did the best I absolutely could.

Can’t believe my grad program is almost over. The ending of one journey is just the starting line of another one 🙂 



to acknowledge relapse

I work with a young woman who identifies herself as a “problem drinker.” Very long story short and for the sake of confidentiality purposes, she experienced a highly-traumatic childhood and lives with a mentally-unstable mother. Alcoholism runs through her family, as it frequently does with addictive disorders. She drinks to self-medicate; she drinks to avoid feeling; to avoid the constant reminders of her broken past.

She’s been sober since I began working with her several months ago. We’ve worked on depression, anxiety, exploration of childhood pain, recent relationships. She’s a motivated client, and we have built very strong rapport (which I consider the single most important therapeutic skill).

Recently, she relapsed. I astutely observed as she told me this in session. The cowardly look. Eyes gazed down at the ground. Embarrassment. Shame. Lowered voice. I’ve started drinking again.

If shame had an emoji, it would have been the expression on her face. At one point, it would have been mine too.

It’s a painful truth to admit, and I know how much shame arises in just telling your therapist you’ve, in your opinion, fucked up. I hated doing it with my own therapist. So much transference occurs: so much fear of letting your therapist down, so much resentment and pain at letting yourself down. All people with addiction struggle in recovery, but it is far more important to examine how they acknowledge relapse.

I know this is true for me. Every time my therapist told me relapse is part of recovery with that smiling, you-can’t-possibly-disappoint-me expression, I wanted to knock that grin right off her face and yell at her for instilling doubt rather than hope. I obviously understand her intentions now, but back then…hell no. I thought I was the only one screwing up; I thought I was the terrible client; I thought I was somehow responsible for wasting her time and ruining all her hard work. I wanted to always be the exception; I wanted recovery. Perfect, black-and-white recovery…clean, concise, and predictable.

A good therapist, however, never works harder than his or her clients. Thus, when the therapist keeps that mentality in check, it is impossible to be disappointed by any content the individual can bring into the room. Am I concerned about my client’s relapse? Yes, absolutely. But…I recognize this is part of her process. She’s not a bad person for using a “bad” behavior. She made a mistake, as all of us humans do. Alcoholism is a mufti-facted, complex disease that isn’t as easy as stone-cold sobriety. I understand that.

I’m so fucking proud of her for being able to tell me. For being able to own up to that shitty part of herself that she hates, that she believes nobody can accept. Because…I can accept it. I can hold it. I can give her the love and validation she deserves to give herself, but, for obvious reasons, cannot do right now.

My therapist used to do that for me. And it felt good. It is something I always promised I would give to my clients, and it’s something I try and transcend in every single session with every single session. Validation. Support. Constant hope and reassurance that things can and will get better, that they are good enough regardless of what they do or do not do.

Some people never get told that by anyone. My aim is to tell that to anyone who needs to hear it.

It’s not the unknown we fear

Dear Bee, 

I’ve been anxious about my future. Feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings that I won’t “make it” in this tough, grown-up adult world consisting of budgets, time management, and full-time work. It’s hard to get ahead. I’ll have my M.S in Counseling by the end of summer, but my particular career requires licensure, which, in turn, means thousands of hours of supervised clinical work. I have the opportunity to find a paying internship after graduation, and I’m going to do whatever I can to land one. Competition, however, is fierce. 

I know, given my stage and level of experience and training, I’m good at what I do. And I love doing it. I’m not a money-chaser, not by any means, but I understand I need enough of it to live comfortably. Moreover, I want to stay in California, which, unfortunately, means a very high cost of living. I suppose it’s just hard not working right now. I’m making zero income. This is the first time I haven’t had a job (or been actively searching for a new job) in about six years. I’m working my ass off at my unpaid internship, grabbing any and every opportunity I can, because it’s the best way to learn and become an attractive applicant for the future. In fact, tonight, I’m going to start leading a brand new support group for young adults facing life transitions. I love that I’m following my dream! I just pray a money trail follows. I certainly didn’t get into this field to become rich, as that would be oxymoronic for a mental health professional, but I do want to travel and have a family. Those are very important to me, and they both take steady income. The good news is that my boyfriend and I will be done with school at the same time, and we will essentially enter the same workforce together. It’s so relieving to have that support. Love is a lot harder to find than any job, so I keep that in perspective.

Food has been going well. I haven’t had much of an appetite over the past few days, but I’ve been eating normally, as in not restricting and not bingeing. Because that’s part of my recovery medicine. I’ve also been insanely craving sugar, but I haven’t really been giving into it, because I’ve been feeling sluggish. Instead, I’m trying to recognize that my cravings are more emotional, rather than physical, and that it probably signals I’m tired, stressed, or need to attend to some other feeling occurring within me. 

One of my favorite professors once told us that it’s a misconception to “fear the unknown,” because it’s not the unknown we actually fear. It’s all the horrible events and manifestations we perceive will happen. It’s all those worst-case scenarios. We fear the worst, rather than the unknown. Because what’s to fear about something we know nothing about. We fear bad things happening to us, things in which we have no control over. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s not the unknown I’m fearing. It’s the fear that I won’t get a job, that all this school and training won’t pay off for me, that I won’t make it as a successful adult in this corporate world. These thoughts stem from insecurity, rather than evidence. I’m where I am for a reason. I graduated college for a reason, got accepted into graduate school for a reason, landed this internship for a reason…these things didn’t just “happen” passively to me. I don’t deserve anything this life. Nobody does. We have to earn what we want.

Anyways, food. Everyone is on a diet. What else is new? I wish I could say it gets boring to hear about, but I can’t lie here. I still devour everyone’s meal plans the way they devour the food. It still fascinates me to watch people eat, to analyze their food choices, to review their bodies relative to their nutrition and exercise. It’s like a thirst that still can’t quite be quenched. I would think after awhile, it would just become exhausting to hear all this diet and food talk, but it kind of fuels me. It’s like a safe way to stay disordered by living vicariously through other people’s obsessions or own disorders. It’s not all that healthy, because I’m still ruminating on food, exercise, dieting, etc. but I know it’s better than ruminating on my OWN food, exercise, dieting. I can’t be too hard on myself. Recovery still requires active work and brutal honesty with myself and others. It’s kind of like doing homework for my hardest class. Not effortless, not really something I can just put off or “hope” I’ll understand, but something I have to concentrate and focus my full attention on. That’s how recovery works. It’s not automatic nor is it natural. It requires actual work and deep soul-searching. 

And that’s okay. Because we most appreciate the gifts we work for and buy ourselves. If someone just handed us recovery, we wouldn’t nearly understand the complexity and gratitude that comes with such a valuable present. 

being THAT person

Dear Bee,

I am now that person.

The one who people frantically call, on a rainy Saturday morning, while I’m still in sweats and typing a literature review, in their perceptions of a crisis.

The one who people cry to and confide in. 

The one who people look to for answers, for fixing, for the solving of problems.

It is hard, being on this pedestal. It is even harder, because I want to be there. I’m that person for a reason. I’m that person because I am good at what I do, because I’m compassionate, because I believe everyone deserves a safe space and a chance to heal. Pain, to some degree, is nonnegotiable and part of the contract of life. We cannot avoid it, although some of us will get more of it than others. I work with people who have faced all levels of pain, whether it has been internal or external. I do not discriminate. It does not matter who is the sickest nor does it matter who has the worst sob story. Pain hurts us all. It is not a competition. 

Most importantly, everyone’s pain is valid. There is no such thing as “fake” pain, because even the pain that we perceive as fake or attention-seeking indicates a PAINFUL problem in it of itself. 

Anyways, being a therapist is a challenging job. Yes, it is entirely rewarding. And no, I can’t picture myself being as fulfilled doing anything else. But, it’s definitely difficult. And it definitely makes me question humanity and how we approach life. It makes me question why we do the things we do and why we make the choices we make. It makes me question fairness and equality, especially when some of the sweetest people seem to face the worst circumstances. It makes me feel grateful, that is, without a doubt, that I can function in this world relatively well and give to others what they cannot give to themselves. In a single session, I can feel so many emotions, ranging from happy to sad to angry to afraid to bored to curious to impressed to worried to insecure. I can be just as emotional as my clients. The difference is, I have to contain it differently. Because, otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors. And therapy isn’t about me. It’s about them. My job is only to facilitate that.

In conclusion, I really care about my clients. Every last one of them. I want them all to prosper.