A Note To Those Recovering From An Eating Disorder

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As a therapist, I help many people overcome challenges in their lives. There’s a common misconception among many clients I’ve treated that mental health professionals all come from a strong foundation and haven’t dealt with the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing. The truth is, though, I became a therapist because of the struggles I went through and because I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate life when you are dealing with challenges that seem outside your control.

One of the biggest challenges I ever faced was recovering from a severe eating disorder that plagued most of my adolescence. Overcoming my demons and eventually learning healthy coping mechanisms made me the person, the mom and the therapist I am today, but it wasn’t an easy process. I used to struggle with sharing my recovery story because it involves remembering such a dark period in my life, but then I realized opening up about my story of hitting rock bottom could help others going through something similar or simply inspire others to work through their past, which inevitably includes dark moments.

My “rock bottom” moment happened when I was working as a nanny in San Francisco and was living with my sister. I had a nervous breakdown after binging and purging for over five years. I was 21 years old, single, poor and depressed after deciding to leave my abusive and controlling boyfriend. I was working as a nanny and a tutor so that I could pay for my education.

That week I had worked for about 50 hours, in addition to being a part-time student at Golden Gate University where I studied international business. I came home on a Friday evening after I stopped at a local grocery store to stock up on food that I was going to binge on as soon as I got home. My sister was at work and I had the opportunity to eat as much as I could. I thought about the number of times that I binged and purged that day and when I counted I scared myself. It had been 15 times… my record was 30 times a day but while serving in the army I was able to reduce the binging and purging to three times a day so I was hopeful.

When I got home I knew that something was wrong but I couldn’t identify what it was. My thoughts were racing and all I could focus on was eating as much as I could and then purging. I couldn’t wait for the moment when I felt the sign of relief — which for me was lying on the bathroom floor like a drug addict and enjoying feeling high after purging everything I had eaten. All the excess noise in my head would clear for about half an hour. This relief came with a ridiculous delusion that I was somehow lighter and more powerful afterward.

I don’t want to bore you with all the details of that evening, but that night after lying on the bathroom floor for about an hour, I knew that something wasn’t right. I tried to get myself up and I wasn’t able to. My heart was racing fast and I felt like the ground was pulling me down and gravity was winning. Was this how I was going to end my life? That thought had crossed my mind many times before, but this time it felt real. I was 21 years old. I felt stupid, ugly and fat, and at that moment, I knew I had to pull myself together and write something so that I could share it with other girls who felt like me.

This moment from 21 years ago feels like it was just yesterday. I am 42 now, married to the man who I met at age 21 and I have three girls. But that moment will forever be ingrained in my mind. Somehow I pulled myself up that night and I started writing what I wanted to be my memoir. No name. Just words on a page.

I ended up writing over 100 pages that night of what I thought would be my story that would be published after I died. The beginning of my imaginary book was, “As I am writing these pages, I am dying from this horrible disease that has taken over my life for the past seven years…”

Many words followed, disclosing personal information about my family and life and horrible things that happened to me in my childhood that I had never shared with anyone. When my sister got home that night, she confronted me.

Everyone around me knew that something was terribly wrong with me. While they knew I had broken up with my boyfriend and it was a very messy breakup, no one could have imagined I was as sick as I was with bulimia and depression. I had hidden it very well.

Looking back at that time is painful, but it’s also eye-opening. This was simply the beginning of a very long process to recovery. Looking back now, I obviously see so many problems with my thoughts and behavior, but I think one of the biggest ways people can help themselves when they are nearing rock bottom is by sharing with someone you can trust. I lived with my sister and we were very close. Had I opened up to her sooner I think the recovery process would have started much sooner.

The point of me writing this note is to express to those on a similar journey that you are not alone. Everyone has a different “breaking point” so to speak, but what really helped begin to pull me out of that dark place was writing. It was the first time I was acknowledging my demons, which is the first step in any recovery efforts.

I encourage you if you are reading this and it sparks something inside you — maybe you are on a similar journey or know someone who is — to reach out and share your questions and comments.

Helpful Tips About Your Nanny’s Legal Status From An Immigration Lawyer

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Our guest blogger this week is Wendy Yevoli, an incredible Immigration Lawyer and partner with Yevoli and Malayev, PLLC. Wendy is often asked by parents how they can help with their Nanny’s immigrations challenges.

We understand that finding a reliable caregiver for your child is one of the most stressful – and important – parts of being a parent. Once you find your trusted caregiver, the thought of losing that person because she or he does not have legal status in the United States can be terrifying. As immigration attorneys and working mothers, we are often asked, “How can I sponsor my caregiver for a green card?”

Can I sponsor my caregiver for citizenship?
This question breaks our hearts, not only as attorneys, but also as mothers. We know that many families would do anything, and pay any amount, to sponsor their caregiver for a green card. But the reality is that in most situations, you cannot sponsor your caregiver for U.S. citizenship. If she or he is here illegally (e.g., by overstaying her or his tourist status or entering the U.S. without inspection), the law essentially says that there is no way for that person to become legal. As immigration attorneys, however, our job is to come up with solutions to help you – and your caregiver.

What are my options?
Through our years of experience working with caregivers (and the families who hire them), we have found that in some cases there may be a way to help them legalize their status.
For example:
-If the country your caregiver is from is undergoing political unrest, the U.S. may have issued TPS (Temporary Protective Status) for the citizens of that country. If so, your caregiver may qualify for TPS and be able to obtain an immigration benefit for as long as the TPS is in effect.
-If your caregiver’s family had filed a green card petition for the caregiver before April 30, 2001, she or he may be able to benefit under the life act.
-If your caregiver has a child or spouse who is a U.S. citizen, she or he may have an opportunity to legalize her or his status.

These are just a few possibilities, and every person’s background and situation are unique.

What should I do now to help my caregiver apply for a green card?
Your first step should be to speak with a reputable immigration attorney. If your caregiver has already engaged an immigration attorney, you can help by speaking with the attorney to understand the strategy he or she is using in the green card process. If your caregiver does not yet have someone representing her or him, this is the time to consult an experienced immigration attorney with a solid reputation to learn what options may be available.

What should my caregiver and I be careful about?
Unfortunately, many caregivers go to agencies or visa consultants for help with immigration matters. Often, these agencies and consultants file frivolous green card applications that they know will not be granted. If that happens, your caregiver will become known to the immigration authorities and at risk of being put in removal proceedings. It is very important to understand the risks associated with filing an application with the Department of Homeland Security, and to speak with an immigration attorney before the application is filed.

And finally…
Immigration laws are complex and constantly changing – which is why it is so important to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Keep in mind that any conversation you or your caregiver have with an attorney is confidential, so do not be afraid to sit down with the lawyer, provide all relevant information, and express your concerns.
We understand the bond that you and your family have with your caregiver, and the importance of protecting that special relationship by helping her or him remain legally in the U.S. Please feel free to call us at 212-634-6322 or email us at wyevoli@yandmlaw.com with any questions you may have.

Yevoli & Malayev, PLLC (www.yevoliandmalayev.com) is a full-service immigration law firm located in New York City. Our firm represents individuals and businesses across the country and around the world. Immigration law is highly complex and individualized. Our firm offers personalized service. We help our clients define their immigration strategy, taking into consideration long-term goals as well as short term needs. You will get advice tailored to your unique situation. Unlike most other law firms, our services are conducted on an affordable flat-fee basis. You’ll know in advance the costs involved. The information on this website in this post is for attorney advertising purposes only. No Attorney-client relationship is formed out of reviewing this post. Do not rely on information found in this post to make any decision concerning your legal rights. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.