Check out What’s NEW here at Where I Stand!!!

 

new-256

 

Hey everyone! You may have already noticed there have been some new pages developed and some reorganization done to the Where I Stand webpage!

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 4.00.59 PM

The Main Menu now has 7 links.

Each of these categories has new subpages (some have simply been moved)

When you scroll over “About Us.” You’ll find:

“Your People” a page that contains information about the individuals who make Where I Stand possible.

“Accomplishments & Press” include things we have participated in and been recognized for in the past (that is continually being updated).

“Where I Stand Makes a Difference” gives you a space to let us know how Where I Stand has made an impact in your life and read about the impact that it has made in other people’s lives.

When you scroll over “What we do.”  You’ll find:

“Lifelines: Letters of Love,” a page describing our Lifelines program in detail and how you can get involved in sending encouraging and hopeful mail to people in crisis or struggling with mental illness/recovery all over the world.

“Mental Health Matters,” a page detailing our partnership with a non profit organization in Portland Oregon who has set out on a mission with us to spread the word that Mental Health Matters through campaigning, making videos, pictures and organizing events in Portland Oregon. We are hoping to expand this program to other states in the next year.

“Purple Love,” a page the highlights Where I Stand’s Purple Love Campaign for Eating Disorder Recovery Awareness that we run every February. The details on how to participate in the campaign on on this page along with thousands of pictures we have collected from people all over the world.

“Purple Fighters Eating Disorder Recovery Group,” a page that is an access point into our eating disorder recovery support group. If you are interested fill out the application and a leader from our group will contact you about getting started.

When you scroll over “Get plugged in.” You’ll find:

“Volunteer,” at Where I Stand we believe that anyone who wants to participate in changing the conversation surrounding mental illness should have an opportunity and a place to do so, so the volunteer page is where you let us know what you are interested in and how you would like to get involved in Where I Stand.

“Purple Fighters Eating Disorder Recovery Group” a page that is an access point into our eating disorder recovery support group. If you are interested fill out the application and a leader from our group will contact you about getting started.

The 1st Where I Stand recovery e-course is still being developed, and is not yet open. As soon as it is you all will be notified.

You are loved.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

 

The hard choices.

bfd53b4eeb2c7b666bd6dd52a8fb5cc9

Recovery is really hard. Recovery is really hard. Recovery is really hard.

….. really really hard.

(But, hey, I’m probably preaching to the choir.)

This statement has circled through my thoughts tonight as I’ve shuffled around my apartment cleaning and organizing in an almost compulsive fashion in an attempt to gain a feeling of control.

I know there are feelings and emotions bubbling under the surface of my behavior desperately wanting to be recognized, acknowledged, and felt.

– But, right now I just can’t.

I’d be lying if I said that cleaning and distraction was satisfying my desire for control.

In full disclosure, I’d love nothing more than to invite my eating disordered behaviors in just for tonight so that I could seek relief, no refuge, in her all encompassing, all consuming nature.

– But, I also know that invitation is to death.

My brain considered alcohol, medication, and self-harm as though thinking about old friends I might call. How easy would it be, just for a night to calm myself almost instantaneously.

They ask nothing of me. They comfort me. They relax me. They calm me. They stop the chaos and create a quite fog that allow me a space to breathe.

— But, I know that ‘space to breathe’ is always followed by chaotic pain more intense and destructive than before.

So, tonight I clean, and I make the best choice I can in the moment for me. I promise myself to ask for help if I need it. I remember that eventually I’m going to have to feel those emotions bubbling under the surface, and that I can handle them. I give myself credit for fighting so hard. I forgive myself for not being perfect. I remember to take care of myself.

You are not alone.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

The truth about ‘having it all together’

tumblr_mog301nM6r1qcguxuo1_500

By: Rachel Moreland 

I went to a wedding a few months ago in the Highlands. It was a cold weekend but absolutely stunning. Set in the mountains with the snow falling down – it was the ideal setting for a romantic winter wedding. I had never seen anything like it.

During the reception I was speaking to a fellow wedding guest, and somehow we got onto the topic of having anxiety attacks during exam time while at college (talk about heavy chat at a wedding reception)!

 “‘You get anxious? Wow, I never pegged you as that sort of person. I always thought of you as someone who’s always smiling…..

…… Like you’ve got it all together.”

 I was completely floored by this comment.

Not because I was offended. I wasn’t offended in the slightest.

But I was surprised.

Surprised because her description was the exact opposite of what I expected her to say. And it was the exact opposite of what I’ve been thinking about myself.

Was it because I smiled when I spoke to her?

Or because my dress matched my high-heel shoes.

Or maybe because I wasn’t binging on the mulled wine.

Whatever her reasons, I was that girl who ‘had it all together’.

And it was either because I genuinely had it all together. Or I was perceived to have it all together.

I’m here to tell you, it’s not the first option.

I’ve thought a lot about that last encounter. I’ve chosen to call it a learning opportunity. And what I’ve gathered is that I am not a disingenuous person. I try to be honest with people. Go on ask me a personal question, and I’ll give you an honest answer. Ask me whatever you want: my marriage, my religious beliefs, my favorite food.

Just don’t ask me about how I’m doing. Because chances are, I’ll reply with the mediocre answer of fine. Alright. Okay.

I don’t want to appear like I don’t have it altogether. And therein lies the true problem with me. And with society. Let me give a brief caveat before I go on.

I know what some of you are thinking…..

‘So you want me to just tell the next person who asks me how I’m doing all my life problems?’

I am not proposing that we turn a casual conversation on the street into a therapy session with complete strangers. Can you imagine how any of us would manage to do our grocery shopping?

No, I’m not an advocate of hanging my dirty laundry out for all to see. Wearing your feelings on your sleeves isn’t always a good idea. Especially, people you don’t know very well.

What I am suggesting however is to embrace your humanity.

We are human.

We laugh.

We cry.

We bleed.

We become addicted.

We fall in love.

We fall apart.

 We are full of emotion but somehow along the way we have forgotten. And we have tricked ourselves into believing the lie that ‘being okay’ is the ‘be all and end all’.

The truth about ‘having it all together’ is that many people try but few succeed.

Everybody has got something. And concealing it from one another reinforces the stereotype of the need to ‘have it all together’. Go ahead. Fall apart. And pick yourself up the next day and try again.

You may have fabulous job. A loving husband. And perfect health. You have so many things to be thankful for. Be thankful and grateful. Gratefulness overwhelms an anxious heart.

But that doesn’t mean you are perfect. Or that you need to be.

You will have bad days amidst all the wonderful days. But the bad days will stick out because it’s during those bad days that you are confronted with the hardest parts of yourself. You are confronted with your struggles. And even though you’re doing just fine, there are days when you’re not okay.

And you know what – that’s okay.

 “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” ~ Stephen Chbosky

 My name is Rachel and this is Where I Stand.

 

No pain, No gain?

Unknown

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. I used to live by it. As a dancer pain really was part of the package. From pulled muscles to blisters and broken toes physical pain lived in the background of my life. It actually offered me a comfort. If I was in pain then I knew I must have been working really hard. If I was in pain then I knew I must have been pushing myself hard enough. If I was in pain then I was making the right amount sacrifice.

It was not until recently that I have been thinking about that pain that I welcomed, and actually needed as a sign that I was doing “good enough” and working “hard enough.”

A few weeks ago I pushed myself to my limits emotionally, physically and mentally. I was strung out on stress and anxiety and began to feel myself and my abilities slipping as a student and as a healthy person. At the time I didn’t really know what was going on until my “aha” moment early this week.

I was welcoming the pain a little too much.

Now, I don’t dance anymore so the pain was not in my toes or in my muscles. However it was in my brain, in my eyes and other parts of my body. I was pushing myself to be the best student, the best advocate, the best GA and the best friend that I could be by brushing off my pain and exhaustion as indicators that I was just working really hard. That’s a good thing right?

Before I knew it I was in severe physical pain; acute pancreatitis – in the hospital – I need morphine – physical pain. In my desire to work the hardest I began neglecting myself. I began sleeping less and not paying attention to my body’s nutritional needs. I began ignoring my emotions and stuffing them away so I had time to deal with other things that I deemed more important. I initially ignored my emotional, physical and mental red flags.

  • I wrote off my depressed mood as it being the winter months.
  • I wrote off my increased intrusive negative food thoughts/behaviors as fluke.
  • I wrote off physical pain as normal “cold” and “flu” like symptoms that everyone gets this time of year.

I was feeling a lot of pain with very little to show for it.

And after a solid three days of sleeping and writing and talking and thinking (some of which I was trapped in the snow). I began to realize what had happened. What I had done. Almost immediately I felt relief.

Not everyone enjoys realizing that their behavior has caused some major problem for themselves. However I love it. If it is my behavior then I can do something about it. If it is the chemicals in my brain then I am left to the mercy of the medicines and the doctors and to me that is so much more terrifying. Most of the time it is a combination of both, but this time, it was all me.

So, incase your in a similar situation here is what I’m doing to get myself back on track.

  1. Returning to my non-negotiables. These are my recovery commitments that I made years ago. These are seven things that I have to complete every single day (no ifs, ands, or buts!)
  2. I’m doing what feels good and not painful. This is a tough one because in life we constantly are pulled in five million different directions. But sometimes in order to survive we have to slow down. I’m slowing down for the moment. There will be plenty of time to speed up later on!
  3. I’m forgiving myself. I cannot and will not beat myself up for struggling. Struggling is part of life (for everyone) and living with mental illness poses specific struggles with functioning. I have to give myself grace, or else it would be impossible to more forward.
  4. I’m being honest. I’m talking about what is going on with me with my loved ones. I’m sharing how I feel with them and I’m being real about what I’m struggling with.
  5. I’m adding extra self-care. There is never a better time to add some extra self-care then when you’re feeling worn down and weary!

You are loved.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

IMG_2213

Mental Health Matters #Where I Stand – Thanks Passion Impact!

Get involved: http://www.meetup.com/Passion-Impact-Volunteering-around-Portland/events/220846586/

Learn more about Passion impact here: http://www.passionimpact.org

Asking for help. Help?

I am terrible at asking for help. Thankfully I have some pretty solid people in my life who gently shove it down my throat from time to time.

I’ve been rather emotional lately. Being a student has never been the most conducive recovery environment for me. However, I do everything I can to make it work. I don’t know if that is because of the nature that is academia with pressure to perform in certain ways and the competitive nature of “out performing” the person next to you or maybe it’s just all in my head. I also hate receiving number grades. As someone who has fought tooth and nail to find a worth inside of me that is not measurable seeing a “92” or “89” scrawled across the top of a page triggers me into thinking “I’m not good enough.”

I’ve also had some physical health concerns as of late. Sharp pains in my stomach and back right now are the norm unless I want to be strung out on pain killers and unfortunately neither of those scenarios are conducive to a strong academic performance.

I’ve been acutely aware of how many times a day I say “I’m fine.” and “I’m good.” and “It’s all good.” as more of a comfort to the person that I’m speaking to rather than in relation to any truth about how I am doing in the moment. There are so many times today I would have loved to scream “EVERYTHING NEEDS TO STOP.” or “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!”

I’m a helper and a healer. As my friend Jackie put it in a text to me today: Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 2.01.28 AM

 

 

As I received that message. I realized how prideful I was being. I didn’t want to need help. I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t want to show weakness. I didn’t want to be human. By extension of that I was just recreating environments and situations where people feel and live in ways that make it difficult for them to ask for and receive help. Ever since Jackie sent me that text message I’ve been thinking about how my actions speak louder than my words.

I want to not only tell people it is okay to ask for help; I want to show them.

I want to my words to match my feelings and my feelings to match my words because feelings, states and emotions are valid. In my attempt to function I was not only hurting myself but creating spaces that were unsafe for others to take care of themselves.

This is hard work.

As a society, we are groomed to behave in certain ways….

I’ve been groomed to achieve, pursue and be independent.

But sometimes people need help; and I fundamentally believe that and I tell people that every single day. I also am going to live it too.

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

NEDAW 2015: Hollyn’s Story

hope-hand

My story began back my junior year of high school in 2011. I began restricting by what I believed was “simply” not eating 1 meal or another. Things quickly progressed though and soon I was restricting more than could keep up with. I was in outpatient therapy at the time but it wasn’t doing me a ton of good. My disorder progressed as I continued throughout high school and into college, seeing therapist after therapist all over the city up until I left for college in the fall of 2013. College was supposed to go well. I had a team set up on campus that consisted of a therapist and a psychiatrist. My parents came up to visit me every few weeks and I had a dorm room to myself so I didn’t have to worry about the stress of being social all the time or sharing my “personal space” with anyone else. I also had a friend in the same dorm building as me, just a floor up. Everything was supposed to go smoothly. Unfortunately, my eating disorder, which I had been in recovery from for about 6 months pre-August 2013, came back with a vengeance with all the change and the lack of supervision. Long story short, I wound up taking a medical withdrawal from college and coming home mid-October 2013. I was devastated. I felt like a failure for allowing my eating disorder back into my life and for letting everything that I’d worked so hard for come crumbling down around me. I took the rest of the fall semester off and started school at a local community college for the spring semester of 2014.

Now that I was back home, in familiar surroundings and with my family, everything should have gotten better, right? Wrong. I did well in school that spring semester, but I wasn’t taking care of myself. My eating disorder raged on and was relentless. Finally, just before leaving for a family vacation that summer 2014, I filled out an online contact form for a newly-opened treatment center down the street from my house. I ended up emailing the intake lady from the treatment center over 2 different family vacations that summer. Finally, I went in for my assessment and found out what insurance would (and mostly wouldn’t) cover. I’m so thankful that my treatment center was flexible because they worked out something they called “modified IOP” between my parents and insurance, which meant I went in for 6 hours/day, 3 days/week for the 2 weeks before school started up again, then I went into the regular 3 hour/day, 3 day/week IOP once school started. All in total I was in treatment for 2.5 months. I’m so thankful for the time I spent at the treatment center with the staff and other patients. They truly changed my life. Now, 6.5 months out from my intake date and about 4 months out from my discharge date, I’m in such a better place than I was when I was admitted. Things still aren’t “perfect” and I still struggle, but I can’t imagine where I’d be had I not received the help I received.

This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015, I’m thankful that I got another chance at life. I deserve a life free from my eating disorder and so do you!

My name is Hollyn and this is Where I Stand.

My heart is purple.

I get really bogged down sometimes in all the crap that people say and do and the darkness that they seem to so eagerly and happily spread. I’m not going to even pretend that the past few weeks have not been really difficult, because well, they have. I find myself asking: Why do I stay here? What am I even doing? What is the point? If this isn’t working… Why are you not doing something else?

A few days ago Where I Stand​ launched the annual Purple Love campaign for Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I’d be lying to you if I told you I was not completely overwhelmed at the thought of it in the moment. I was feeling drained and empty. Asking myself “Where will I get the strength to do this?”

And in perfect timing and fashion I was answered in message from a woman who follows Where I Stand. She sent me this:

“Hi Erin,
I just wanted to say thanks for all you do for Where I Stand, and with the purple project! Its always amazing to see others so dedicated to helping others in need. It is my passion and dream to be a motivational speaker and to help others just like you and lizzie do. I would love to do what you both do…”

I don’t do ‘my’ work, Where I Stand, Mental Health Advocacy, things like Purple Love because they take energy from me, but because they fill me with energy, light, hope and joy.

I wear purple because my heart is purple. I’m filled with purple love. <3

My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.

https://www.facebook.com/events/780561922037631/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

10991218_650406921770825_7320660699763938746_n 10153631_651037565041094_410139762835216085_n 10422143_651038091707708_5166287781359762350_n 10942503_10153149977481983_3591454669218285215_n 10991206_651038415041009_8448610770173032150_n 10944866_651037271707790_2091996476960969742_n 11008416_651037355041115_6035647646401482050_n

Defining Strength

10982259_10152819985718893_6239058010739306144_n

Defining Strength

By: Erin Elizabeth Casey

 

I used to believe

The strong were the ones who jumped the highest

Lost the most weight

Gained the most approval

Got the highest grades

And still held that perfect smile on their face

 

I was wrong

So incredibly wrong

 

I saw true strength the day my best friend told her mom on me

I see true strength each time I witness an honest and true apology

I saw true strength just the other day as my friend cried and said “I am not okay”

It takes true strength to be real, not just know the ‘right’ thing to say

 

I see true strength when people choose to build others up high

Rather than tear them down to make themselves feel important, cool or fly

 

Strength is in facing our fears

This sometimes means welcoming the tears

And not checking out with rounds of beers

 

Running from our fears, challenges, or problems is not strong

And to be honest you won’t be able to go for long

 

Good for you if

You can jump the highest

Lost the weight you wanted

Gained everyone’s approval

Got the highest grades

And maintained that perfect smile

 

That’s good for you

But true strength is found in doing things we don’t want to do

But know we have to

Because they make things better and right

For me and for you

Because you see this strength helps to turn on the light

And this gives everyone more power, strength and might

On Making It

Written by Lizzie E.

There are so many days when I find myself asking myself if I can really do this; is the fight really worth it? Recovering from a mental illness of any kind is a struggle. It is, undoubtedly, the most difficult thing I have ever done (and continue to do). I think it is natural to have those moments when you want to give up. It’s like anything; when things get unbearably tough we want to throw in the towel. Think about running a marathon. I’m not a distance runner myself, but I can only imagine that there are numerous moments throughout that race that quitting seems like the best option. However, I bet the sense of pride and accomplishment you feel when you reach the finish line makes it worth the struggle. It is the same for recovery; we will have our highs and our lows. There will be times we need to stop for a break and times we need to grab a water to refuel (i.e. seek extra support, go back to treatment, etc.). Sometimes just seeing our loved ones cheering us along on the sidelines is enough to push us through a tough moment.

youhaveeverythingittakes.jpg-1024x684

I feel like so many people experience this incredible guilt when they need additional help in the recovery “marathon”; I know I have. It is especially difficult when you start off strong and then hit a bump in the road. You may feel like a failure. But I can assure you, what you are experiencing is OKAY. It is part of recovery. Mental illness is tricky. There is no magic cure, no special pill, no secret mantra that can fix everything. It is a process; it will have ups and downs. There will be times when you feel so exhausted that you need to stop. That is okay. What matters is that you listen to yourself. If you feel yourself falling, don’t stay on the ground. The biggest failure is not seeking help when you stumble; it is staying down after that fall.

I recently came across a song called “You’re Worth It” by Cimorelli. The artists sing, “when will you realize…you’re worth it, you don’t have to do anything to earn it…you’re perfect, you deserve it, when will you see what I see, and realize you’re worth it.” It is not a particularly profound statement, but it radiates truth. You are worth all the help and support you can possibly get. Recovery means reaching out for that assistance, listening to your body, and trusting yourself. Do that and, trust me, you’ll make it.

08c38db83b874a6759dea67bb14a321d

My name is Lizzie and this is Where I Stand.