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 Manna Minute 
Monday, September 25 2017
What an Eating Disorder Isn't, and What It Is...

There is something I want to clarify with anyone who is unaware of what an eating disorder is and what an eating disorder isn’t.

First of all, anyone that suffers from an eating disorder wants you to know this:

We would never wish an this disease on ANY one… but it would be wonderful if the non-disordered eating population could understand a few key things- so with that goal in mind, let me get started…

What an Eating Disorder Isn’t and what and Eating Disorder Is:

Isn’t: An attempt to get attention from those around us

Is: A mental illness that is all consuming

Isn’t: An attempt to lose weight

Is: An innate fear of food that is secondary to a deep down hurt/trauma/ pain

Isn’t: Strong will power or lack of will power towards food

Is: A learned behavior over time that has become a way of numbing out any emotion

Isn’t: A glamorous act

Is: A traumatically terrifying way of living in a Hell on Earth on a daily basis

Isn’t: A disease that can only be determined by weight

Is: A disease of the mind that can come in any way, shape, or form- it does not discriminate

Isn’t: A selfish act

Is: A lack of self-worth  

Isn’t: An easy fix

Is: A long road that takes time, money, professional support, possible medication and hospitalization and sheer grit and tenacity to overcome

Isn’t: A choice

Is: A disorder, a mental illness that is the combination of the phrase “nature loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger”

Isn’t: Widely understood

Is: Made light of or praised because often society deems disordered behaviors as healthy

Isn’t: Understood by most medical professionals

Is: Often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all due to lack of knowledge and training on professionals’ behalf because it is a very subjective disease that there is no cookie cutter definition/test for

Isn’t:  A thin, privileged, white girl problem

Is: Experienced through all sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds

Isn’t: “Just a phase” or “normal” or “no big deal”

Is: A disorder that without treatment can end in short term and long term physical and mental harm and in many cases, death.

Isn’t: Easily treated

Is: On average a 45+ days in very expensive, not all insurance covered, hospital stay… Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient Hospitalization, Years of therapy, and support groups to boot…

Isn’t: About food

Is: About control

Isn’t: An option to eat or not eat, run or not run, purge or not purge, etc.  …

Is: Survival… every second in an eating disorder mind feels like survival with symptom usage as the only means to live

Isn’t: Living life to the fullest

Is: A living Hell for those who suffer and those who love the sufferer

For someone who has never suffered from disordered eating, and eating disorder, or mental illness, the solution may seem simple… but those of us who have been in or are in the trenches of an eating disorder know that simple does not always mean easy.

Ask questions, care relentlessly, and love unconditionally… And know that the Warrior that is fighting is the battle of a lifetime for their freedom.

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 07:40 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 15 2017
All That I Hope

With all that I am,

And all that I hope,

I wish for your wellbeing,

In learning how to cope.

This world is not set up

For the ones who feel so deep,

But honor the beauty in the downfall

And don’t be afraid to take the leap.

It may seem like a spiral spinning

Out of control where you aren’t winning,

But rock bottom is the rescue,

And from there can be a new beginning.

Trust those who don’t promise perfection,

But the ones who lend protection,

Because they are the angels

Who will lead you without question.

Aim for free, indeed,

Strive to live life by your own creed,

And the outcome will be one day

That from your chains you will be freed.

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 11:13 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 05 2017
More than My Voice...

Voiceless-Thoughts in the Practice Room

 I am back home in the beautiful mountains of Northern Pennsylvania for my final year of college, but I am well aware that I no longer belong. As I set down to the piano bench, and placed my vocal score in front of me, I could feel a shiver ascend up my spine. Once carrying an overage of 20-21 credits, I now begin to spiral if I creep over a mere sixteen. Yet- I realize I am human, and this new reality of recovery is okay. A young woman who once gained her lifetime highs from sustaining breath taking high notes in her favorite arias- I am lucky today if I can sing above a D5 on the staff because of the damage my eating disorder has caused to my voice. More-so, I will be even luckier if I am ever able to sing the way I once could. I am twenty one years old, and I face health threats to my esophagus that doctors typically see in the fifty year old alcoholic males they treat- but moreso the same health threats that cost me my ability to sing.

If I could speak to my younger self- there would be so many things that I long to tell her- but it does not matter since I know she would never have listened, anyways.

I write because I hope someone understands that I chased an eating disorder for the happiness I never got. Yet- that is exactly what eating disorders do. They rob you of everything you are. The very person you have aspirations to become is never who you will be as long as you cling to these false perceptions.

Samantha in her eating disorder would do anything to protect this false identity, and because of these sacrifices I am a college vocal performance major who may not be able to finish her degree program since I chose an eating disorder over my prospective career. I was warned, and I knew the repercussions of the disordered behaviors before, and during college… but Ed never listened. Ed thought he was more important. I am one and a half years divorced from my eating disorder, but it was too late by this point to reverse the damage done that would eventually cause the shadow of severe acid reflux has still cost me my vocal health, and singing voice. Yet I want you to keep reading because even though these things occur- I want you to recognize amidst these trials- there is beauty.

Humility is losing part of your singing range, and sitting in front of the piano with tears streaming down your face as you realize the permanent damage. When you realize that Ed has officially stolen from you the very thing that drove you to choose life.

I divorced my eating disorder to save my voice, and here I stand at a crossroad of vocal therapy fearing I may lose the battle.

But the thing is- I am more than this one thing. My voice inspired me to get to life, but Samantha is so many more things than a singer. She is a fighter, a warrior, a writer, a dreamer, a future therapist, a Daughter of the King- You are so many more things than your struggles, too. I write because we may fight, but these fights make us stronger people. Never let the world change the soft heart you possess. You are priceless.

One of my Pastors spoke a few months ago about how God will NEVER cause trials to happen in our lives… but we can always know, and believe that He will find a way to turn these adversities into the most beautiful peaks if we allow Him to take the reins. While I am unsure of the future, and perhaps you are too, I would encourage you to look at Psalm 23 because with God we can fear no evil for He is with us. Let His rod and staff be a comfort unto you in your trials, but also throughout the beautiful moments as well.

Perhaps you are at a fork in the road as well- be it school, family, or the woes of recovery, but I want you to know that you are a beautiful and incredible warrior who is fearfully and wonderfully made. Ed may have “stolen” from you… but life is yours the minute you CHOOSE to reclaim it. Life is mine. Life is ours. I will sing again- a song is whatever you make it. Make it beautiful.

Posted by: Samantha Eckrich AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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