There is an Asshole Living in my Head.

There is an Asshole Living in my Head.

  There is an Asshole Living in my Head.   I’ve got an asshole living in my head. Ed, the voice of my eating disorder, still inserts his ugly comments into my life sometimes and recently he has been particularly loud. I find myself comparing my body to other women’s bodies and to past versions of my own body. I think about wanting to lose weight and feel myself judging every curve of my stomach. I am anxious about wearing bathing suits and certain dresses. If I just work out more and lose a few pounds before my trip to Nicaragua I’ll be happy, right? I shouldn’t look like this. I didn’t used to feel this uncomfortable in my own body so I must be failing, right? Ed’s voice can be so convincing…and the whole thing pisses me off. No! My body is not fat, Ed! No! I do not need to have six-pack abs to have fun at the beach. My body should NOT look like my anorexic eighteen-year-old body. I do not need to compare myself to other women with their own body types and body image issues. I am twenty-five-years-old with the body of a twenty-five-year-old woman who does not have the time to look like a fitness model and who finds fulfillment in other areas of life than only the physical. My happiness is not determined by the size of my body! I am beautiful and sexy and gorgeous and amazing…and I am tired of thinking that I am not. I do not want to live my whole life looking back at old pictures thinking,...
Year in Review – 2017

Year in Review – 2017

  Zoe Vlastos’ Year In Review   A New Year!  A quarter century of life! And 2017 was a blast!! I cannot fit all the amazing times I had into one blog post but I have created a shap-shot of my 25th year of life to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to!   December 2016—May 2017 Base Home: Boulder/Denver Colorado   Denver Children’s Home As a Youth Treatment Counselor at Denver Children’s Home I spent more time than I ever have before in a K-12 classroom. In the Day Treatment Program school at the facility I worked with students ages 10-18 who had experienced trauma, abuse, and/or neglect. I greatly enjoyed working with underserved populations, loved being around the kids all the time, and learned lots of group management and counseling skills. I also got to work with some amazingly dedicated and passionate people. Although I did decide to leave DCH due to a draining and unfulfilling schedule, I am extremely grateful for the experience!   Eating Disorder Foundation Gala Speech and Performance In April I spoke about my recovery from Anorexia Nervosa and provided a piano performance in front of an audience of 400+ fancy-smancy guests at the Eating Disorder Foundation’s annual Gala fundraiser. I am beyond honored to have had the opportunity to share my story with so many people while raising funds and awareness for eating disorder prevention and recovery support. Furthermore, I had the privilege of sharing the speaking podium with my amazing mother who spoke about recovery and the experience of a parent of a child with an eating disorder....
Interview with 9News Denver!

Interview with 9News Denver!

  On November 15th, 2017 I was on TV for the first time! As part of 9News’ Addiction Week series I was interviewed as a survivor of Anorexia Nervosa. I shared my story of struggling with and recovering from an eating disorder in conjunction with an interview with Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani (MD CEDS, FAED) who spoke from the perspective of a medical professional in the field.   You can see the interview here. Please share!   I am extremely proud to be an advocate for recovery in such a powerful way. I have an intimate understanding of eating disorders. However, many people barely know what an eating disorder is, much less how to recognize an eating disorder in a loved one, have an awareness of the factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, or what signs could mean that they are struggling with an eating disorder. My hope with sharing my story is that more people will know a little bit more about these terrible illnesses and that those who are struggling will know that recovery is possible.   I am also excited to share my story because these illnesses feed on isolation. By sharing my story I am breaking the silence around struggling with an eating disorder. I believe that moving out of the darkness facilitates healing…not only for the individual struggling or in recovery but also for the stigma surrounding mental health in our culture. I hope that by sharing my story others will be inspired to move into the light so that we may stand together, united and strong.   Below are some...
A Beautiful Mind, an Under-Toad, and Constant Vigilance.

A Beautiful Mind, an Under-Toad, and Constant Vigilance.

Spoiler Alert! This post contains plot information from A Beautiful Mind. It is an amazing movie! If you have not seen it, go watch it and then come back to read this post.     A Beautiful Mind, an Under-Toad, and Constant Vigilance.   In the movie A Beautiful Mind the main character, John Nash, sees characters that are his schizophrenia manifested in “human” form as hallucinations that only he can experience. It takes John (and his audience) awhile to realize that these seemingly real figures are actually figments of his imagination. These people he sees and has complex relationships with have been created by his mind to cope with his reality. Towards the end of the film Nash says, “I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them.” With these words Nash is showing not only that he has developed an awareness of the hallucinatory figures but also that he now understand that he has the power of choice. John knows that although he may be unable to eliminate these characters from the landscape of his mind, he can choose whether or not to engage with them. He has realized that he can ignore the hallucinations; he can deny his demon’s power.   I have a character in my life similar to John Nash’s hallucinatory friends. His name is Ed. He is like a shadow I never asked for, who burgeoned in my late teens and attached himself to me for life. Mostly, Ed is a voice of abstract thoughts and beliefs. However, when I imagine him in a physical form he...
BODY DYSMORPHIA

BODY DYSMORPHIA

  It’s normally dark outside when I look in the mirror naked. Even though my pre-work or pre-bedtime brain is jumbled with sleepiness and fatigue it can still lie to me through the reflective piece of glass before me.   This morning, sticky thoughts of body negativity wash over me with the warm water in the shower and I feel trapped.   I feel trapped in my own body.   I want to wriggle out of this skin that I loved just yesterday; I want to hide from this home-turned-prison. The desire to run away, just for a moment, from the uncomfortable situation that is body dissatisfaction seeps into my being. I want to look away from the too-bright florescent light glowing around the curves of my waist and the non-gap of my thighs…but I can’t. I wish I could love it—this body I know is beautiful to everyone else—but right now I just want to scream. I just want to change it. I can almost see the words—gross, imperfect, not enough, incompetent, weak, pathetic, worthless, ugly—sliding down my body like the beads of water slipping down the steam-streaked mirror facing me. These slimy words are like roll-on tattoos that ooze deeper and deeper into my skin the more I fight to scrub them off.   How do I escape? ~   Body Dysmorphia: anxiety about one’s appearance and a distorted view of how one looks.   I didn’t think body dysmorphia was a part of my eating disorder concoction. Even when I pinched the skin on my elbows and cheekbones at the worst of my anorexia, even when...
Ready, Set, Recovery: What helped me to start moving away from my eating disorder.

Ready, Set, Recovery: What helped me to start moving away from my eating disorder.

  What would I have wanted to know when I was starting recovery? What would I tell my past self now that I am recovered? What advice or tips do I have for others starting recovery? Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like to start recovery and what helped me (or could have helped me more) to move through that difficult time. Someone recently asked me, “What do you wish you could tell your past self?” and it got me to thinking…   Things that helped me in recovery or that I wish I would have trusted more:   Recovery is possible. While this may be hard to see from within the disorder, once on the “other side” of this journey, recovery is the obvious and very possible path. I know that the eating disorder voice in your head or even a part of your self does not want to believe me. However, I am living proof that recovery is possible. I understand the fears that cloud the pathway towards recovery. I know the fear of weight gain, eating fear foods, and not having control, which can corrode your resolve to get better. I know the mistrust you have of yourself and others. I understand the feeling that it is all a trick…a horrible anxiety-provoking joke to make you fat. I know the thoughts of recovery being worse than where you are now. I understand where you are at, because I have been there too. I know that feeling of not being able to escape; damned if you do and damned if you do not....
Recovery Party: Celebración de Merienda

Recovery Party: Celebración de Merienda

  Six years ago I began my journey in recovery from anorexia nervosa. Last Sunday I celebrated my recovery with a party! Every year I like to celebrate my recovery around the date that the denial shattered and I realized that I had an eating disorder. That day changed my life. Most years I celebrate my recovery on my own with some dark chocolate and big mountain smiles. Last year, I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I decided to have a Celebración de Merienda. In Argentina the forth meal of the day is a ‘merienda’ or teatime between lunch and dinner, a time to eat ‘torta,’ drink ‘mate,’ and be together. A merienda is a perfect time for a celebration! This year I decided to continue the tradition with a Celebracion de Merienda here in Colorado. On Sunday my house filled with the smiles of cherished friends, overwhelming amounts of chocolate and flowers, and many heartfelt conversations. Being surrounded by so much support and celebration was extremely powerful! Plus, I got to cook for everyone and host a party…which I love!   Below I’ve included what I said and the proclamation that I signed (in English and Spanish) at the Recovery Party or Celebración de Merienda:   Part I: Eating disorders are all about shame, silence, and insecurity, which is why I am so excited to have you all here today to face my recovery from anorexia nervosa with celebration, joy, and love!   As many of you know, I love questions! While preparing for today and reflecting on my recovery I found myself asking the question,...
Authentically Standing in my Truth

Authentically Standing in my Truth

  Six years ago I was at war with myself. Eighteen years old, getting ready to leave home for college, and totally lost. My journal entries were full of confusion as I realized something was terribly wrong in my life but could not put my finger on what it was.   Six years ago I still did not know I had an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, the most deadly of all mental illnesses, had stealthily taken over my life. Strongly blinded by denial I remember spending long minutes ordering at restaurants as I tried to figure out what item had the least calories. I remember lying to friends about stomachaches and food intolerances to avoid eating. I recall spending hours reading recipes and baking cheesecakes I would never eat. I wanted to be near food to feel the strength of denying myself sustenance. I was numb: constantly cold from lack of nutrients and emotionally numb from avoiding all feelings. I longed for emotional intimacy even as I isolated from the people I loved most. I constantly strived for perfection, grasped for false control, and wore a mask of vivacity to hide my emptiness and fear. I desperately wanted to be happy, knew that I was not, and had no idea how to get there.   Now, six years later, I almost find it hard to remember what it felt like to be anorexic. Yes, pieces of the disorder still burgeon when I am under stress and I must clip them away from the joy and authenticity in my life. And, yes, recovery is a continual process of becoming my...
How did my eating disorder begin?

How did my eating disorder begin?

How did my eating disorder start? I have a picture on a bulletin board next to my bed. It shows a brown-eyed girl with blond curls tumbling away from her round face in a halo. She looks to be only five or six years old but her gaze strikes me as intuitively wise, confidently determined, and full of questioning wonder. She is jean jacketed, ready to change the world, and unassumingly sure of herself. I have another photo hidden between the pages of a book. This one is of another girl. She too has curls but these brown ringlets are pinned up and fall stylishly around a face painted with new make-up and a fake smile. With a toothpick skinny arm propped on a bony hip she poses delicately. In her hazel eyes I see a constant striving, an insatiable hunger to be better, and a cold inside of her that she barely keeps from breaking through. She is pretending she can face the world but she has no idea who she is. Both photos depict me. Myself. Zoe. I. Zoe Vlastos. However, a wide gap lies between these two girls. They are separated by a question that seeks to explain the difference in their eyes and smiles: how did my eating disorder begin? How did that defiantly confident girl who was opposed to conforming to social norms become obsessed with appearance, body weight, and eating? How did she go from a happy little girl to an anorexic young woman? How did the eating disorder develop? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? It’s the question that haunts my parents....
Zoe Vlastos: My Year in Review

Zoe Vlastos: My Year in Review

Despite irrationally disliking odd numbers, being twenty-three was really good to me! My year has been chockfull of adventure, exploration, learning, and growth. Sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado (the Trident Café) I am stealing the idea of writing a “year in review” from my friend Blake Boles to give you a run down of what I’ve been up to!   January 2016 Fraser, Colorado, USA   National Sports Center for the Disabled I spent a month living with my amazing great aunt and uncle in Fraser, Colorado. During this time I volunteered 10 days with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, an organization that provides adaptive sports (kayaking, climbing, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, and more) to individuals with a variety of disabilities. I had the pleasure of teaching sit skiing to some absolutely mind-blowing kids and adults as well as working with the jolly staff at NSCD. I learned to not take being able-bodied for granted and grew immensely as a skier. Plus, I got to ski tons when I wasn’t volunteering!   Falling in Love In Dec. 2015 the stars aligned and I met the love of my life. Much of January was spent driving back and forth from Fraser to Boulder as we fell head over heels in love! And…I’m still falling!   RAW I started a blog on my recovery process from anorexia nervosa called RAW for Recovery from Anorexia Wholeheartedly. Check it out here. More to come in the next year!       February – Early April 2016 Patagonia, Argentina and Chile   El Chalten I spent a month...