123 – The Real Life Impact of Eating Disorders ft Carissa Dyer

Through her teenage years Carissa experienced the pressure of managing her eating disorder on top of all of life’s stressors. How does this hyper focus on food, eating, comparison, judgement and hiding all of the above from your closest people impact your life? Carissa was amazing enough to come in and share her first hand experience.

This experience has shaped her journey into OT and where she is wanting to take her career.

Look after yourself, look after others, and always keep Occupied

Brock
@brockcookOT
brock.cook@me.com

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Transcript

Brock Cook 0:00
Hi, and welcome to another episode of occupied. Today I had the absolute pleasure to speak with the lovely Clarissa Daya around her experience of an evening having an eating disorder going right through and into a recovery program for that right through to now studying occupational therapies impact, or potential impact for people with eating disorders through her doctoral Capstone, so just a trigger warning, but gonna be talking about eating disorders and the impact that it has on people’s lives. If there’s a trigger for you feel free to skip ahead or not listen to this one. It’s definitely an amazing episode was just so open and honest, and I can’t thank her enough. So strap in, get ready and roll the episode. Get a My name is Brock Cook and welcome to occupied. In this podcast we’re aiming to put the occupation in occupational therapy. We explore the people, topics, theories and underpinnings that make this profession so incredible. If you’re new here, you can find all of our previous episodes and resources that occupied podcast.com. But for now, let’s roll the episode.

Carissa Dyer 1:30
Oh, yeah, yeah, um, well, originally when I went to undergrad, I was going in as a physical therapy major. And in the States, we don’t have like, this is my physical therapy like bachelor degree, or at least at my university, we did it. So I was exercise science with a concentration in physical therapy. But my family and I went on vacation in Florida, like down a little further south in Florida. And we were on the beach and I heard this baby just like wailing crying, I think I was about I was a spouse be a sophomore in college. And I was like, Mom, that dad back there who looked so stressed out. He added like a little kind of toddler on the sand. And then somewhere was a baby wailing. And he just looked really stressed. His wife had just walked away with their other child to go into the ocean. And I’m like, I’m gonna go ask him if he needs help. And she goes, Okay. Um, so yeah, I went out and like, sir, you look really stressed. Like, are you okay? Like, I hear crying? What’s going What’s wrong? And he’s like, Oh, my gosh, you’re a lifesaver. So I started talking to this family, who, such a small world lives, 30 minutes away from where I grew up in Kentucky, and the mom comes back and her little boy has Down syndrome. And I love kids. I’ve always, you know, worked with kids growing up babysitting kids. And he has Down syndrome, and I’m just, you know, talking to her about her kid and, you know, services that he gets, because I tell her I’m a physical therapy, Exercise Science, pre PT. And she goes, Oh, well, we really got a lot out of occupational therapy. I’m like, Oh, what’s that? And that kind of just started this spiral of me, really researching OT and I just really like how it’s more holistic, and really client centered, where we make our goals based off of what the client wants, not just moving your body, which physical therapy is important. Um, I just feel like they have a different important aspect into someone’s plan of care than what we do.

Brock Cook 4:02
Yeah, definitely. On the there’s a spot for the professions that we have. It’s just yeah, it just yeah, we we’ve, we’re unique, and we just need to do that as well. So yeah, so random. action from the beach.

Carissa Dyer 4:19
Yeah, yeah. And, I mean, I still keep in contact with that family. I’m still friends. Yeah, yeah. And I’m 25 now and I met them when I was, I think I was about to turn 19. So I’ve kept in contact with them for a really long time. I was gonna do, they do the buddy walk. Every year. It’s a walk for people with Down syndrome in the States. And there are different locations all throughout the US and pretty major cities. And I was going to go to that one, that they have a team every year for their son, but circumstances just didn’t line up for me to go But I’ve still always like wanted to go. Yeah, yeah.

Brock Cook 5:06
So did you like change immediately like after that experience like Yep, now I’m doing it.

Carissa Dyer 5:14
I’m pretty much yeah. Yeah, once I cuz I was still on summer break at that point but once I got back on campus for the start of my sophomore year, which that’s our second year in undergrad in the States. That’s so weird to say that because talking to someone that’s not us.

Brock Cook 5:35
I’ve watched enough movies I know thing.

Carissa Dyer 5:37
Yeah, yeah. Um, but yeah, pretty much as soon as I got back, I changed my major to, which is not that much different. It’s really like once you get more into like, your senior year where the classes start to really vary. Yeah. On the prereqs for grad school, so but then I decided to pick up a health administration minor, and a psychology minor.

Brock Cook 6:04
Interesting. Yeah, yeah. So yeah. They were Where are you finished now? Are you still got

Carissa Dyer 6:17
my undergrad? Yeah. Yeah, I graduated my undergrad in 2018. And then I started graduate school for to get my doctorate degree and ot last January and 2020. So we were about a month and a half into school, and we went on spring break, and our professors are like, we’re not sure if you’re gonna come back and then we never came back. Oh, so that was great. I had to do cadaver and anatomy and physiology online. Which was terrible.

Brock Cook 6:52
That probably was in my personal preference. I hated doing those. Yeah, yeah. I was the smell. I couldn’t do it. So online. Oh, suited me?

Carissa Dyer 7:02
Yeah. Yeah. I, I didn’t really care about the smell. I just wanted like the hands on learning because I’m paying so much money, even though it’s loans right now. But I was like, wow, this really sucks. Yeah, their pictures. were like, what are we looking at? Yeah, that doesn’t even look like a femur.

Brock Cook 7:19
Yeah, yeah, that aspect of it. I can understand. Yeah. So how long have you got to go for your doctorate?

Carissa Dyer 7:27
Um, I graduated in August actually graduate on my birthday. Winning August. Yeah, yeah. August 13. So I have until the end of that month to get on my own insurance. That’s great. That’s how I’m looking at that. But uh, no, I’ll be married by that time. So that’ll be hopefully good. I can just hop on my future husband’s insurance so yeah, in the states you get kicked off of your parent’s insurance when you turn 26

Brock Cook 7:59
I don’t even though Yeah, we don’t have that system so I don’t have to worry about

Carissa Dyer 8:03
Yeah, yeah.

Brock Cook 8:06
Very American type of problem I think.

Carissa Dyer 8:09
Oh yes, it is.

Brock Cook 8:11
So what’s at the moment obviously going through you Will you do like projects? And that’s what like thesis projects and stuff for your doctoral program. what’s what’s your sort of current interest area? What area of practice you’re leaning towards?

Carissa Dyer 8:27
Yeah, so mental health? Um, I have had my proof Yes. Considering your podcasts very concentrated around that. Um, yeah, mental health I didn’t even know that ot you could do mental health I kind of had a very basic understanding of what ot can do going into grad school. And now I love it even more than when I told you that I met that family on the beach and decided to change my major. I’m just yeah, I look at like everything now through an OT lens. And I’m like, wow, this is pretty cool. Um, yeah, I, when was it? fall of last year was when we came back in the classes. And I started with a girl in the class ahead of me, the mental health specialty pathway. So at my school, we have we’re allowed to do small difference, kind of like specialty clubs. We have a hand club, an older adult club, nikkyo pedes Club, an ergonomics and technology club, and now mental health club that myself and a girl in the cohort above me founded and it’s still going strong. I’m proud of the people that took it over it. I check in on him every now and then just Make sure that they’re doing okay. But it? I mean, yeah, cuz it’s in its second semester of running. So I had no idea what I was doing, but I was just like, I hope this works. And people like it’s

Brock Cook 10:13
usually the best idea stop. Yeah, yeah. So pretty much everything I’ve ever done started. I have no

Carissa Dyer 10:21
idea correct? Yeah, yeah.

Brock Cook 10:24
So it was so you said earlier that you did a site subject was that sort of where the passion for mental health came from or does that why you enrolled in that subject you already had an interest in it?

Carissa Dyer 10:37
Yeah. So I already had an interest in that subject because of my own personal experiences with mental health. And I just don’t want anyone to ever feel the way that I have. Because it’s a really crappy feeling. And no one should ever have to feel that

Brock Cook 10:58
way. That was a very loaded question, because I do know why you’re here. Yes, you do. Yeah, so let’s dive into it. So your experience with mental health? What was it when to start?

Carissa Dyer 11:15
Yeah, yeah. So um, I’ve struggled with body image issues pretty much my whole life. But from like, what I can really remember around the age of 10 was and I really remember struggling like hardcore with body image, what I ate, how I looked at other girls, how I compared to other girls, and how I wanted boys to see me and what I thought boys liked. In growing up, you know, where I grew up in. I grew up in a very southern, Southern, very conservative, Christian Catholic town in Kentucky. And a lot of the time, you know, mental mental health wasn’t talked about. I mean, I feel like recently Yeah, yeah, I feel like recently. Within the past, like five years, mental health has been more and more present. And I feel like it’s now been the most present it has ever been. But yeah, I, I developed. I want to say I developed mild anorexia when I was about 10 or 11 years old. And then at the age of 16, I developed blumea. And at age 23, I finally decided I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. And I got myself into a partial hospitalization program. And I’ve been in recovery ever since. And I’m 25.

Brock Cook 12:58
So the, I guess, start with the I said you had mild anorexia to start with?

Carissa Dyer 13:07
Yeah, yeah. Just kind of mild.

Brock Cook 13:08
What did that? What did that look like? Like I added that present? Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 13:12
yeah. So um, I also have played soccer for also pretty much my whole life. Around the age of four was when I, I think join my first team. It just started by you know, really kind of had a lot of body dysmorphia restricting more than I should have at the age of 10. But I knew that I couldn’t restrict to the point where it would raise concern with my parents

Brock Cook 13:46
aware of that,

Carissa Dyer 13:49
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. 100% 100% because I saw how the other girls at my school ate, how they looked. And I’m like, I want to look like that. My thighs. I was so self conscious about my thighs because I have soccer thighs. I played soccer since I was four. So I’m like my thighs are bigger than any other girls thighs there that I hate them. And I thought that by eating the way that Claire not the name of a girl in my class, but Claire eating eating how she did, I would get to look like her. Which was not the case. Because if we all ate the same thing every single damn day, am I allowed to curse on this podcast? Okay. If I did the same thing every damn day and as everyone else and we all did the same exact workout we would all still looks so different. Yeah, which I didn’t know at the time for your information. We were not taught feelings. That’s kind of how it is in the south in the US. Is you the only emotions you’re allowed to show our happiness and anger and pissed off occasionally. so different from anger. I mean, I feel like we’re evolving in America a little bit with feelings, at least on the side of social media that I’m on now. Because I completely did like a clean, clean sweep of all my social media once I got into recovery. Um, yeah, but that really, I feel like that really shaped how I then coped with everything that I was feeling as a kid. Because cuz, I mean, I didn’t have a way to say I feel self conscious about my body. Because of this, this this and this. And this is why how do I deal with this?

Brock Cook 15:49
So this would have been just for context? Probably late 90s ish when you would tend mid 90s late

Carissa Dyer 15:59
it was actually early 2000s Okay. Yeah, yeah, I was born in 96

Brock Cook 16:05
that makes me feel old

Yeah, cuz I’m just trying to like say my generation was the first generation or probably the last generation that remembers the time before the internet I’m assuming you died. It’s always been there.

Carissa Dyer 16:25
I don’t know I really wasn’t no. I don’t remember being on the internet until I was like, around 10 or 11. Okay. So I mean, it could have been there but I just wasn’t allowed to be on it.

Brock Cook 16:42
So obviously, social media sort of came in that mid 2000s ish era which is you know, probably a fairly high developmental time for someone who Well yeah, age, you feel like that. Play obviously you you talked about comparing yourself to just the girls at school and what they ate and that sort of stuff. Do you feel like something like social media or were there other influences? That also like I know there’s been talk about you know, those magazines that that girls really cosmopolitan, and stuff like comparing and creating unrealistic? like yeah, and isn’t that sort of stuff do you feel like there was any other influences? Other than just seeing the girls at school?

Carissa Dyer 17:30
Oh, yeah. Yeah, because I did I was always on a competitive soccer team with other girls and I felt like my body looked so drastically different than there is I’m like I want to look like them too. So not only the girls at school in grade school, but also the girls on my soccer team. And I I not that I think I do know that because I looked at those girls at my school with such highest admiration I was bullied a lot in grade school I came in in second grade at at my school so I was eight and I was the only girl in my class with braces and glasses. Then like I needed those because if not I would have talked very strangely I had braces for four and a half years so like two sets to two sets of braces and four and a half years

Brock Cook 18:27
so excuse you take a look lovely.

Carissa Dyer 18:30
Thank you Yes I do know that they worked very lovely and but yeah I just I got made fun of I was brace face in four eyes and I also my hair looked like it was I was a boy boy cut because my hair My mom wanted my hair short because it was less to take care of.

Brock Cook 18:51
I remember yes I remember my mom telling my sister that as well when we will get

Carissa Dyer 18:55
yeah yeah. Yeah easy to get me out the door easy to manage. There. I just know that there were a lot of things and I was seeking that approval from them. Because I wanted to be friends with them. I was I was the newest kid in school. Every one of my grade at that point went to preschool daycare kindergarten like they went through it all together because that’s just the kind of you know, area that I lived in. Everybody knew everybody

Brock Cook 19:24
it’s probably an odd question. But given this is completely not scientific. Given the two people that I have spoken to on this podcast around body dysmorphia have both played soccer for the majority of their lives. And that’s where again, the like like you call them soccer thighs was a bad thing. Do you feel like sports, in particular soccer, at least in the like where you grew up? There’s a culture of that or you just feel like that might just be coincidence.

Carissa Dyer 20:00
There’s a culture. Um, there definitely is. I mean, there was research done when I was doing my literature review for my capstone, which I’m sure we’ll get into. But I found an article, I didn’t end up using it, but I just found it really fascinating. There was an article that was done and it was like dance, volleyball, gymnastics, and swimming are the sports that have the highest numbers for body dysmorphia, eating disorders. And like major health issues based on body image, because it’s mainly heavily female focused, and it’s very much concentrated on how your body looks. I do think that soccer there is a big part in it, though, because, I mean, you’re in a locker room with girls like you’re, you’re changing your your jerseys, you’re taking showers, like you’re gonna see what each other’s bodies look like. And that comparison is gonna happen, which happened a lot in undergrad because I also played soccer for my university. And that happened a lot. to the point to where like, I would, I don’t know if this is too much information, but to where to the point to where I would have an hour long binge and purge, two to three times a day in college. And I would make sure like I would plan my day around when that was going to happen. And when I had soccer practice, and when I had a class, I mean, I seriously I don’t know how I survived undergrad.

Brock Cook 21:50
Yeah. Yeah. Just that added stress would have just planning that would be

Carissa Dyer 21:58
ridiculous. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. deal with. Yeah, it really started to get bad when I was a senior in high school I around this time of year, so this time of year is always a really hard time of year. For me. Everything was like just going down the shitter at that point. Yeah, everything was just going down the shitter. At that, at that point, my senior year, even though I was committed to play at an undergrad University, and that was my dream for college. I got really I got the sickest I’ve ever been. And I still didn’t feel like I looked good enough. My grandpa ended up passing away, which really sent me down a dark spiral. Yeah, and it was just really, really bad. And the guy that I ended up dating a little bit before I went to my university. He, he could tell that, like, something was off with me. He couldn’t, he couldn’t exactly pick up what. But he then figure it out, because he’s just a very intuitive guy. He’s like, you need to get help, like, you eating and then going into the bathroom, and purging. Like, that’s not normal. I knew that it wasn’t normal. But that was my that was my secret. That was the one thing that I could control at that point, because so much had gone out of my control at that point in my life. Because my grandpa was the one thing besides my aunt who is also now passed away. He was the one thing like, that really held the glue to my dad’s side of the family together, and he was the only grandpa that I had left remaining on this earth. So it was it took a lot out of my family and myself. Yeah,

Brock Cook 24:01
that’s happened in a short period of time to know Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 24:05
yeah. But yeah, getting into recovery. Um, it really was my fiance like he. He saved my life.

100% saved my life. And now I’m gonna start crying because he’s so awesome.

Brock Cook 24:24
I’m sorry. That’s happy tears. Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 24:26
yeah, they are happy tears. And he knows that too. He really does. Yeah, he does. We’ve been engaged for two years. We’ve been together for almost five. There’ll be five next month that we’ve been together for five years. I met him playing college soccer.

Brock Cook 24:47
soccer players. Oh boy. Just watching soccer.

Carissa Dyer 24:51
No, he also played right. Yes, yeah. You like watching me play soccer. He also played for my universe. City. Yep. That’s kind of how we knew of each other and then. But he thinks that like, I don’t know, His story is a little bit different than mine, but I always think that it was. Yeah. Um, but I met him because I actually needed help with a class that I was taking. And I tutored anatomy and physiology for my university at this like little tutoring center that we have on campus and he tutored like a computer class, I have an apple, and it was for Microsoft, and I don’t use Microsoft. So I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And we also didn’t, we also didn’t work the same hours. So like, I never ran into a really, and had asked, exhausted all of my options of people that I knew that possibly helped me and I’m like, Well, I know this guy. Hopefully he doesn’t think I’m too stupid. And so I went in and I’m like, Oh, yeah, you’re on the soccer team. Whatever. I thought he was really cute. kept going to see him. I almost gave up. Cuz I’m like, Are you seriously not picking up? What I’m putting down dude? No, he’s just stupid.

Brock Cook 26:10
Well, that didn’t take long to turn around. No, he’s amazing. 30 seconds later, he’s stupid.

Carissa Dyer 26:18
He just did not pick up on my hints that I was dropping because I apparently Yeah, yeah. He didn’t pick up on the signals that I was giving him. And he says I wasn’t being obvious enough. But I know I was anyway. Yeah,

Brock Cook 26:34
I’m not getting into that too. But

Carissa Dyer 26:36
yeah, um, but happy ending. We’re getting married.

Brock Cook 26:41
So just before, I guess you met him with regards to your then what would was believe me? And by that stage? Yeah. What was how was that impacting your sort of day to day life? What was it? What was it?

Carissa Dyer 26:58
I mean, like, kinda like I said before it I planned besides like, soccer practice and classes, which were, like, the times are set up when I had practice. And when I had class, and I, outside of that I would plan my entire day around when I could binge and purge. And the bad thing was was when I first my first few months of being a new grad school, I lived with soccer girls, and I had a direct roommate who I lived in the same room as so that meant that we shared a bathroom. So I’m like, Well, shit, how am I going to keep doing what I’m doing? But in my mind, I’m like, Okay, well, maybe this is a chance for me to get better. Because I thought that I could fix myself. I can stop at any point that I want. I was That was my mindset.

Brock Cook 27:48
No, but up until that point the like you wanted to keep it quiet like a secret. Oh,

Carissa Dyer 27:52
yeah. Yeah, that was that was like my dirty little secret kind of like the American honor can reject song.

Brock Cook 27:59
Well, that’s a throwback.

Carissa Dyer 28:02
Yeah, yeah. No, but it really it really was. And I didn’t that was that was my that was one thing that I could control and college soccer was so uncontrollable to because I am i was i wasn’t playing as much as I wanted to. I was gaining weight because I wasn’t able to binge and purge. I didn’t have a lot of friends on the team because of a lot of inner teammate drama that was happening. So much was out of my control that that was the also the only thing that I could control. Yeah, again, I don’t know how I survived undergrad,

Brock Cook 28:41
really just for those that might be very new to this sort of area. When you talk about binge and purge, what is that?

Carissa Dyer 28:49
Yeah, so a binge? Is it eating an excessive amount of food that you would not normally eat and purging is then getting rid of that food and any sort of way that gets it out of your system, either by vomiting, making yourself poop, basically, by taking laxatives or excessive exercise? Which I would do all of the above. Which,

Brock Cook 29:21
with the excessive food you’re talking about, like, essentially just eating until you’re absolutely stuffed. Oh, yeah. Yep. And then, like immediately trying to get it out. Yep. And what was I guess, obviously, you look at it very differently nowadays. But back then, do you recall what you obviously the purpose was to like control your weight or lose weight, etc. But can you sort of, do you remember what the basic theory was that you were thinking of? Like, what is it that what is it about that cycle that you felt was going to help? Wait.

Carissa Dyer 30:03
Honestly, I don’t know. I mean to myself, it’s still kind of a mystery. Like, I know that I did that because that was the only thing that I could control at that time. It was also my only way of coping with a lot of emotional pain that I was in that I didn’t know how to deal with because I didn’t have a coping skills to deal with all of it. All of the weight that I was carrying on my shoulders, from my childhood, from soccer, trauma from relationship trauma in the past, it was just a big heavy weight.

Brock Cook 30:46
Do you think? Because I guess. So when you’re actually going through the binge aspect of it? Was it because um, I’m working on a theory here my head trying to work. Okay. So, obviously, most people, like, you know, I guess what you call happy hormones are released when they’re eating that kind of stuff. Would you when you’re doing the binge? Was it trying to sort of, I guess, for lack of a better term, like chase that high of that sort of this makes me feel good. And then the binge purge was more like, what have I done to myself? Like, the more that sort of guilty thing, or was it while you’re eating, you’re like, I’m gonna have to get rid of this. This is terrible. This is like we beating yourself up while you were doing the the binge aspect, and then purging or was it chasing the high and then getting rid of the, I guess, to also say the evidence, but yeah, no. undo the

Carissa Dyer 31:43
damage? Yes. Well, sometimes it was getting evidence. It was, it was a little bit of both. I mean, it would really depend on the day that I had, if I had had a really shitty day, it was to get to feel something. Yeah. At all costs. Yeah.

Brock Cook 32:04
I’m good, bad or otherwise, yeah.

Carissa Dyer 32:06
But then other days when I had felt too much, and it was a shitty day, it was to numb out. So that that was kind of part of the purpose to chasing that high, or numbing out from everything that I had experienced that day.

Brock Cook 32:27
So it’s kind of I think, a lot and we’ve spoken about this on the podcast before. People that might use illicit substances to kind of like self medicate.

Carissa Dyer 32:36
Mm hmm. Oh, yeah. I wasn’t 100%. Self medic socially self medicating

Brock Cook 32:39
with? Yeah, well, I guess, not necessarily the food, but I would assume it’d be more the hormones released during the actual food process.

Carissa Dyer 32:49
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, it’s, it’s an addiction, just like anything else. Um, I mean, there are withdrawal symptoms that I went through when I was going through PHP. That’s what we call partial hospitalization. Here, we just abbreviated PHP, which actually, I left out this part to my mom. So I had told my mom when I was 18, that I had an eating disorder. She also kind of figured it out on her own, too, because she could tell that something’s off with me. And so she tried to get me in. She tried to get me in therapy, she tried to get me to an inpatient Children’s Hospital in my area. But I didn’t, I didn’t want to, like watch it now that that means that I could give this thing up. Yeah, that I’ve been that that’s the only thing I could control. And I don’t remember any of this at all, because at this point, I mean, from probably the age of 18 till 22 I dissociated from my body. I don’t remember a lot of college because I wasn’t present. Yeah. Which, I mean, I remember a lot of like my relationship with my fiance at that time, but like, my day to day soccer, specifically, training for soccer, and then when I would be home alone at my apartment. I don’t remember a lot of that the only thing I really remember from college is time spent with him because he literally saved my life. But I didn’t want to go to that because that meant that I would have to give something up. So I’m like, I’ll go see a dietitian.

Brock Cook 34:42
So what was the what was the or what did you see the purpose of towel and you might like if you weren’t necessarily keen on giving that up, what was your thinking with regards to telling it, he just wanted to vent and talk to someone about it, or you just wanted to not hold the whole burden yourself, or

Carissa Dyer 35:05
I think it was not holding the whole burden. This has been something that I haven’t explored in therapy just yet. Because I still am in therapy? And I, I don’t know, that’s a really good question that I can’t fully answer for you right now. I think it was, I didn’t want to hold that big weight, and keep it on myself, I wanted someone else to have to carry that too.

Brock Cook 35:33
Because I think for a lot of people, like the types of reasons someone might reach out to someone else. And it’s not necessarily, I think, being the, the person that someone reaches out to, quite often people just automatically assume that if someone’s reached out to you, they want help, they want to change, they want to fix, they want you to help fix that kind of thing. And that’s, yeah, it’s not even that it’s not really often the case, it’s it’s probably majority, not the case that that’s happening where some people just want to share that load, they need to get it off their chest, like we were talking about earlier, like having that kind of, I guess, secret, for lack of a better term, that alone, without the actual physical effects of what you were doing to yourself, just holding that, and not wanting anyone to find out the effort goes, that goes into actually trying to hide that from people can be a huge burden. So having someone that you can talk to that you can share, that you can spread that load a little bit can be a huge help. And in my experience working with many people, not just eating disorders, but people with a whole range of different diagnosis quite often, that’s what they’re looking for, when they first reach out, they may not be in a place to want to change yet. But I’ve always looked at that as well. Even if you’re not wanting to change like that, that’s a good step forward, at least you’ve recognized that you can’t do it on your own. But no matter what it is, whether it’s giving up or just holding that secret, at least you’ve sort of come to that realization to start with.

Carissa Dyer 37:25
And I don’t I don’t blame my mom for trying to give me the therapy at that point. Because I mean, I’m, I’m her little girl, like she’s gonna want to do whatever she can to protect me. And I just wasn’t, I also didn’t know at the time how to tell her. I just want you to hold this with me. But also my mom, mom, mom, being my mom and a mother being a mother, they’re not going to hold on to that because that’s their child, like they’re gonna want to make sure that their child is healthy. Especially before I move three and a half hours away from her.

Brock Cook 37:58
Yeah, definitely. And it’s like I said, that’s it’s most people’s natural reaction is to want to help to, like, how can we fix this, like most people are fixes and that’s, oh, yeah, it comes from a good place. And it’s a really, I mean, I’m the same I I’ve trained, and I’ve worked in this area for however long and I still struggle to, you know, switch that aspect off sometimes. But it’s a hard I guess, habit to break that your initial reaction is wanting to fix and help when that’s not always what they the person needs or wants. And sometimes they just, were just taking a step back and just listening can be a good first step. So if anyone does approach you then just take a step back and and listen to start with. And I’ll tell you if they want help. Like if they want to quit if they want to whatever it is, if they want help. They want support. Generally they’ll tell you.

Carissa Dyer 38:59
Yeah, yeah. And that’s something that I’m like now, I’m really good at communicating that like, I’ll just say to my mom, dad, my younger brother, or even my fiance, like, I don’t want you to say anything. I just want you to listen. I don’t need you to say anything. I don’t want advice. I just need you to listen. And don’t typically do that. Most of the time. I would say they’ve gotten a lot better at just listening now then. Yeah, when I first got into therapy, they’re like, but I’m like no, just listen. Yeah,

Brock Cook 39:39
that’s awesome. So from I guess, as bad as it got, and then you met your fiance.

Carissa Dyer 39:51
Yeah, I met him at the age of 20. Okay, so I just turned 20 at that point and then we started dating in November. of 2016 I look behind me, the sign behind me has our anniversary date on it.

Brock Cook 40:04
My God, You don’t remember? Oh, I know. That’s right. I will probably forget mine as well. So he was a couple of years before you got into the rehab, like after meeting him, was that relationship with him? we obviously want that, obviously. But I’m assuming you were still trying to keep it secret at that

Carissa Dyer 40:33
point. And I was. And I was good at it, too. Yeah, at that point, I had been within three years. When I told him what was going on. And he’s, at first he was just in disbelief. Like, it’s like, no, no. I’m, I’m like, yeah, it’s been going on. Like, I told him the whole shebang. And he’s like, Okay, well, we need you to get help. Like, we can do this together. Like we, him being a fixer. He’s very much a fixer and wants to help. And he was like, we can fix this together. We can read all the books, we can fix this together. You don’t need to go to somewhere professional yet. We can try and do this together. Because at that point, I didn’t want to tell my parents I was too ashamed. Because there’s a lot of shame. Around Yeah. Around addiction in general. I’m admitting you need help is one thing that I am working on. I’m not very good at asking for help. And healing, we don’t have to tell your parents Yeah, like it’s gonna be okay. I ended up having to go get professional help. And anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder, listening, please go get professional help. They’re trained to, that’s what they’re trained to do is to help you get better, and they have science behind it to help you. So around, I think, and late November, December was when I got into rehab, and I started getting sober and then so it’ll be two years coming up in this November, that’ll be two years sober.

Brock Cook 42:29
When you’re, when you’re talking about servers that server from being Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 42:36
yes. from, from the from, from the initial start, I have had, you know, minor relapses, which are to be expected when you get into recovery from anything. I would hope not like hard drugs, really, but trust me, yeah,

Brock Cook 42:58
I know. I know. Multiple Lumia process.

Carissa Dyer 43:01
Oh, it is not. Um, yeah. And I mean, now, I think my last relapse was like three months ago. So but the process of me being in recovery has been almost two years and every day gets, you know, a little bit better. I have a lot of podcasts that I listened to when I’m not in therapy. I’m Glennon Doyle. We can do hard things as one of them. If you have not listened to her podcast, we can do her things. You need to this is not free advertisement. But yeah, yeah. This is free advertisement for her. But she’s married to Abby Wambach. Who is like a Golden Boot winner, women’s national team, women’s national US national team soccer player. She’s phenomenal. Yeah, they talk about a lot of hard things on their podcast, and it’s pretty awesome.

Brock Cook 44:02
That’s cool. I like it. Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 44:04
yeah. Yeah. But yeah, because of my experience. That’s why I want to help people now and mental health with being naughty. Doing my cat. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Brock Cook 44:21
So with, I guess, prior to going into rehab and getting help, I’m assuming that the planning and you discuss a little bit before the planning and just the thinking about food, and like planning you binge and purge and that sort of stuff would take up, like a huge amount of time and energy during your day.

Carissa Dyer 44:44
Yeah, and I really started thinking about the process of recovery and like, trying to fix myself first before asking for help. I’m probably in April. of 2019 because in 2019, was when I started going through rehab in November of 2019. I’m like picturing a calendar in my head right now. Yeah, in May of 2019. I ran a half marathon, thought that like, running, eating clean, which, there’s no such thing as eating clean. Doing doing that was gonna be my fix. And being a fitness junkie, which I already kind of was, because I was college athlete, but even diving more into that was going to fix that. And it didn’t it only made it worse. Um, and within a year’s time span, I ran two half marathons, which destroyed my body.

Brock Cook 45:53
By running marathons isn’t healthy?

Carissa Dyer 45:56
No, especially the way that I was doing it. In general, is it? Yeah, no, yeah. Um,

Brock Cook 46:03
any sport, any sport that puts you your body through extremes. It’s not like, I love talking about this again, multiple times, like I’ve been powerlifting. And Coach powerlifting for quite a while. powerlifting is not a healthy sport. Your body is not designed to squat bench or deadlift, that much weight, like the things you’re putting your body through.

Carissa Dyer 46:30
Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Brock Cook 46:32
sometimes it might be worth the risk, but it’s not healthy.

Carissa Dyer 46:35
No, it’s not. And like, just what I was doing to my body at that time was so bad. But when he proposed, Lee proposed to me in 2019, August of 2019, also around my birthday, um,

Brock Cook 46:54
yeah, you’re gonna have to get married on your bed. Like, it seems to be the only date you remember?

Carissa Dyer 46:58
Yeah. Unfortunately, we’re not getting married on my birthday. We’re getting married in May. But may is also like one of my favorite months. So that makes me happy. But yeah, I’m like, What if you know, I want to have kids and I want to have be healthy and start a family like, this has got to go. And by this, I mean, my eating disorder, my messed up intrusive thought thinking needs to go. And it was actually my chiropractor at the time, who caught that I was not eating very well sat me down how to heart to heart and said, We need to get you better, because you’re about to go to grad school and grad school is no joke. You need to make sure that you are healthy, so that you can take care of other people. And at first, I mean, I was a ABA therapist, I was working with kids with autism, and running around and doing all the things and I’m like, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people. Like that’s a load of crap. It’s not a load of crap. Like it’s so true. Because Looking back, I could have taken care of my kids so much better than I was initially. Yep. And I read, I go through some days where I regret that so much, but I also wasn’t in the mental space to be able to say that to myself yet. So yeah, yes, passion and grace with having to learn how to deal with everything in therapy. It’s interesting.

Brock Cook 48:45
Again, something I’ve taught to the students that I work with and spoken about with a lot of people is the the concept of behavior being language. And, yeah, I think that a lot of people when they sort of when you start opening that discussion up automatically think kids, but my, like, I’ve never worked with kids. And I still have that theory, because it holds firm for adults as well. And adults, usually just either too proud or stubborn to actually admit that everything that they are doing every decision they are making, is telling people, something about them. Yeah. And I can probably almost guarantee you that yes, you were very good at hiding it. But I think it’s one of those things in hindsight, I guarantee you there were signs that someone if they had been experienced in that area and actually knowing what signs to look for. would have been able to pick up that kind of

Carissa Dyer 49:57
a 100% What have I mean I’ll tell you I’ll tell you right when I would be in the lunchroom either at undergrad even especially in high school when I was at my lowest my fingernails would turn purple because I would be so cold because now I’m have chronic anemia because of that because of my millenia but my iron levels would be so low and I would be so tired all the time. my fingernails would turn purple my lip the outside of my lips would get a little purpley blue I would disappear for 10 to 15 minutes after I would eat which I also would not eat very much at lunch I’m disappear for 10 to 15 minutes to go purge my skirt for my uniform because I went to all girls Catholic High School and we had to wear uniforms my skirt for my uniform I could almost wrap it around my waist twice because of how much weight I had lost at that point. Um my hair I could take it like this it would my hair now is so healthy healthy is it has ever been I could take it and break it in half. Because it was that brittle and weak in my fingernails if I like tried to bend it just a little bit it would snap off

Brock Cook 51:33
all pretty good signs that something’s not quite Oh, yeah.

Carissa Dyer 51:35
And I also I also lost my menstrual cycle for five years.

Brock Cook 51:44
Yeah, that part doesn’t surprise me.

Carissa Dyer 51:46
No, no. And I mean, I’m not I’m not going to tell anybody like my fingernails are purple book. I’m so cold. I have no energy. I’m not going to tell you well not really go to the doctor.

Brock Cook 52:02
Yeah, and I but I think for most people, they’re not things that people would automatically go Oh, in disorder.

Carissa Dyer 52:12
No, they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t know like, Oh, you’re so cool. You’re always cold.

Brock Cook 52:17
Yeah, just cuz you’re thin or something. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The cold more than most people something like that.

Carissa Dyer 52:24
Yeah. I still am always cold. Because I have chronic anemia now. Yeah.

Brock Cook 52:31
Yeah, it’s. So one times, obviously back then it was, I guess, controlling everything and had an influence on everything you do. How do you find Have you found that aspect of it changed? Like right now, like now that you’ve done a couple of years of therapy? Do you find that you still thinking about it all the time, but the thinking is different? Or there’s times when you’ve not been not had to think about it? Like how’s How does it present nowadays?

Carissa Dyer 53:06
Yeah, um, I will say I call I call my eating disorder voice in my head. I call it Ed. It’s from a book by Jenny Schaefer. Um, life before life. Before at I think I read it when I first got into recovery. And she was bulimic called her eating disorder voice ad. So I naturally adopted that. You probably have, yeah, you probably have. She’s incredible. Um, I aspire to meet her one day. But I, there are lots of days when it is not even in my head at all. He’s very quiet, he’s asleep. There are other days where he is. It’s a bullhorn in my ear. And I can’t get him to shut up. Those days are normally the loudest days are normally when I’m about to start my menstrual cycle, or I have not been taking my medication, my anxiety medication regularly. Yeah. Or I’ve either had like a fight with my parents, or my fianc e

Brock Cook 54:27
some kind of stressor.

Carissa Dyer 54:29
Yeah, some kind of stressor.

Brock Cook 54:32
So suddenly, I again, this is something I’ve spoken about with my students, I think I’ve ever spoken it too much on the podcast or spoken about it with my students. a fair bit around. Something that’s really helpful with a lot of different issues within mental health is externalizing it so being able to separate yourself from the issue, and I was gonna ask you about that before, but obviously you’ve just described exactly that. Yeah, yeah, giving it its own name.

Carissa Dyer 55:05
Oh, yeah.

Brock Cook 55:06
Is that something that? Is that something that came from like during being in therapy? Or is this something that you start to do like back in the throes of it a few years ago?

Carissa Dyer 55:18
Um, I kind of I would say, I would kind of start back in the throes of it like, a little bit. Like when I was really, really struggling, like would be on the bathroom floor crying. I would be like, why is this happening? Why am I so F sharp and messed up in the head? I felt like I was going absolutely insane. And since I’ve experienced, you know, mild anorexia, not, you know, very severe. And then severe bulimia? I would, I would say that blumea out of the spectrum of all of the eating disorders, in my opinion, is the health most hellish of the two.

Brock Cook 56:05
So you’ve just thought, Steve, talks about there about it being an impact on you, why is it happening to you? So obviously, we’re separating? It’s from not it was Yeah, and your issue and

Carissa Dyer 56:20
yeah, but I would I could feel that it was putting it was literally almost like a weight, or dumbbell on my mind on my head. Like, why am I am the one boy, yeah, what is this thing going through me and inside of me? Um, but externalizing? It has helped it a lot.

Brock Cook 56:42
Yeah, I think the discussions I’ve had with people, and even in clinical situations, when I’ve talked about that externalization of an issue helps people process it. Because yes, kind of like, when you’re too close to an issue to actually be able to think correctly about it or make a correct decision. Getting almost like getting a second opinion can sort of help you sort stuff out. So externalizing it. And that’s why I really like on terms of ot like some of the more visual models like kawara, and that sort of stuff, because it helps people externalize what’s going on in their head, then they can see it on paper. And using a range of senses to process it, as opposed to just sitting on your own thoughts and trying to ruminate and trying to work it out like that, which doesn’t work. Oh, yeah. difficult to do.

Carissa Dyer 57:38
Yeah. And at the time, like I was my own worst enemy. A lot of the time this silly, I’m cuz I’m my hardest critic.

Brock Cook 57:46
That’s not Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 57:48
it’s, yeah. And it’s not uncommon. So.

Brock Cook 57:52
So do you still get I guess, urges or like, obviously, it’s being looked at as an addiction. And that’s most other addictions? It’s sort of habit versus hormone kind of triggers? Do you still get? I don’t know, I guess you’d call it a craving or something. Yeah. And purge.

Carissa Dyer 58:20
I’m not so much binge anymore. That pretty much the been part of it is pretty much wiped out of my system, because now I do have other coping mechanisms to where when I do feel anxious, or something has gone on, either externally that I can’t control. Or I’m, you know, feeling some sort of way internally. I have those coping mechanisms now to where I nip it in the bud before it even starts. Or before those thoughts even come come about the purging it’s, I would say, if that does happen at all, which is not frequently anymore, really. And if that does happen, I mean, I let my fiance know I talk about it with my therapist, we get to the bottom of why did I feel that way? XYZ Yeah. Um, it’s typically because I have fried chicken sandwich and I felt like shit about myself afterwards. And I feel like a grease ball and all these other things that I’m feeling.

Brock Cook 59:29
I even for people that may not really, I guess, identify as having a an eating disorder or fried chicken salmon probably would still make them feel like shit, too. So yeah, yeah. Yeah. Just makes you feel heavy.

Carissa Dyer 59:45
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that’s really, a lot of the times when it’s when it’s triggered. It’s by something that I ate. I think it I think really Like only one time it was a purge was it wasn’t even like a Yeah, a purge was triggered by something external that happened.

Brock Cook 1:00:12
Okay, so it’s more about nowadays like recognizing those feelings first come up as opposed to like letting them get to that sort of crisis point and then just Oh yeah. Yeah,

Carissa Dyer 1:00:25
yeah, yeah. And building up to that point yeah.

Brock Cook 1:00:30
Knowing what you know now and studying what you’re studying now? Yes. How do you see? Or do you see any place for ot in the I guess rehab slash of rehab of eating disorders? I guess practice area?

Carissa Dyer 1:00:53
I’m glad that you asked. Yes, because that’s why I’m here. Um, yes, I do. So that is what my whole Capstone is about I am doing. I’m doing an occupation based life skills program development, for individuals with eating disorders in an inpatient behavioral health hospital.

Brock Cook 1:01:21
Which I’ve already found,

Carissa Dyer 1:01:24
yeah, I’m about to sign the contract with the hospital and a couple days, just have to, like, cross all the T’s dot all the i’s, all that stuff. But yeah, I, I’m really excited about the opportunity that I was able to find for myself. And it’s in the area where my fiance, and I will be living once we’re married. So that’s even better hope I get hired by them, you know, after I’m done, because that’s the goal, to pay off all the student debt. And I’m also going to Colorado for a week to shadow my expert mentor where she works. So I am so grateful for that experience to that’s happening, like right in the beginning of my capstone in April of next year, yep.

Brock Cook 1:02:19
I don’t even know month by month is October.

Carissa Dyer 1:02:24
Yeah. April. Yeah, it has been a long year, in April of 22. Yeah, that’s, that’s when everything starts for for our capstone. So I’m really excited to be in Colorado, because it’s so beautiful, and to have that experience, and to be by the mountains and all the things.

Brock Cook 1:02:44
So in terms of your journey, I assuming because you didn’t mention it, you didn’t actually have any contact with an IT during your?

Carissa Dyer 1:02:53
No, I didn’t ask this. I feel like, I’ve

Brock Cook 1:02:57
helped you feel like you are not necessarily missing out on something. But do you feel like there was a place in your journey that an OT may have been of assistance? or?

Carissa Dyer 1:03:08
Yeah, Yeah, I do. Um, I do feel I mean, in the partial hospitalization, um, I would have to be a little more seasoned to know what my role would be in that particular setting. But I’m coming as, as a student and a new grad, in August next year, I definitely see a place for ot because it affects your whole day. Everything you do, and I mean, their food rules, their food, rituals, their food routines, like, without, I mean, my literature review that I have pulled up right now just to like, kind of help me. Think about all this stuff. All of that ot lingo is peppered in, throughout my literature review, because it does take up, you know, every occupation

Brock Cook 1:04:12
much out there already, like in the evidence base directly from OT, or is this a relatively sort of new space on terms of the evidence base anyway, for moving into?

Carissa Dyer 1:04:24
There’s very little research out there and the research that I did find is very recent. And there’s current research being done right now. I actually, I was a participant in a study over at the states, an anonymous study for like genealogy and disorders, and how it makes up your genetic makeup which I my family does have a history of addiction. So it doesn’t surprise me that I ended up with that gene. Just because of my family history. Because it was either me or my younger brother. So

Brock Cook 1:05:06
do you think in your research and what you found from the literature, it sounds like the treatment, the current treatment, the current best practice treatment is more around, or probably more similar to, like addiction treatment that would go ahead for other things. Yeah. Or is it like a completely different set up?

Carissa Dyer 1:05:28
So from what I experienced, we it was similar to addiction, like, addiction for alcohol, we follow the a model, and which helps me a lot in recovery.

Brock Cook 1:05:45
Like sobriety term came from because it’s not something I’ve heard used in associate.

Carissa Dyer 1:05:49
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I, yeah, and I mean, I use that because of, you know, where I did my therapy. Yep. Because we use that as that was the motto. That’s just the billing that everyone use. Um, but yeah, I mean, like, with meal time, like, it would have been really helpful to have like an OT there, especially. Like in an inpatient setting, you’re gonna have a lot more, hopefully, a lot more tools at your fingertips. Like with a full kitchen, we didn’t have a full kitchen where I went, it would have been really nice to have like a full kitchen with the stove, so that I could focus on like preparing pasta, which was a huge trigger food for me. And like, taking in all those senses, and smells, because I’m a very sensory seeking person. Which also explains why I then did seek out blumea because it is a very sensory addiction. So now my coping mechanisms are very sensory as well, but having that sensory input to help and cope with that stuff. Because having an OT there would have been really helpful. I love weighted blankets, and we didn’t have any of those there. I yeah, sorry. Good. Yeah, I know.

Brock Cook 1:07:14
But so yeah, for those that that, yeah, do relate to them?

Carissa Dyer 1:07:18
Uh huh. Yeah, I am very sensory seeking my really on the other hand, will run in the complete opposite direction of a weighted blanket. She hates sensory input. But that, like shopping for clothes, that’s another intervention that can be done for individuals with eating disorders and should be done because I didn’t find any research. And I did a lot to try and, you know, break that separation of someone’s appearance in the mirror. Yep. And I mean, if you see a size, whatever, is that going to trigger something else? I want to fit into a size extra small, not a small, because that’s not small enough? Yep. I don’t look good enough to fit in the whatever. And just the intrusive thoughts that come with that. And then, like eating at restaurants like I would have. And when I wrote my literature of YouTube, I tried to think of what it what did I struggle with? And how would that apply to this? Yeah. How did it impact my everyday going to restaurants couldn’t do it. Could not enough I did, it was Bad News Bears. So having that exposure, having outings and being in that social setting, because it also impacts your socialization skills.

Brock Cook 1:08:54
Especially, especially like, if you’ve developed that, or any condition really, from such a young age, like they’re the years that most people engage with friends and you know, lose friends, when friends, that’s where they develop those coping mechanisms and those skills, develop those relationships and all that sort of stuff. And if your primary occupation, for lack of a better term is looking after your eating disorder, then you’re not putting the time in to develop those skills. So yeah, that makes sense that that’s something that people are going to struggle with.

Carissa Dyer 1:09:31
Yeah, and I mean, my social skills in high school and in college, like, I would try to turn to alcohol as a different way to cope. I just hated hangovers, and

Brock Cook 1:09:47
particularly likes them. No,

Carissa Dyer 1:09:49
but it was just it was so much different, though, than what I would experience through Ed. And that was a different type of socialization to that I tried to use to cope with everything to numb out sometimes

Brock Cook 1:10:07
i think that’s that’s probably especially yes college students of that age like that’s the social behavior. So yeah, it’d be if you can’t engage in that or don’t want to engage in that or don’t enjoy that, because that’s another thing that sort of isolates you from your peer group.

Carissa Dyer 1:10:28
Oh, yeah, yeah. And I’m another like intervention that I’m hoping to develop into this program development for this hospital is self care and leisure exploration. My self care skills were non existent. Now, and I didn’t even I thought that self care was going to get your nails done, getting your hair done and doing a facial, and I would do those things. And I still, my cup would still be empty. I wouldn’t feel like I had recharged my battery at all. Yep. And that’s not good to have any form of my self care was binging and purging?

Brock Cook 1:11:13
Well, I think Yeah. Well, with regards to what you’ve described so far, like you, obviously everyone does need some kind of restorative occupations do like you said, Yeah. But those things, I would imagine, based on what you’ve said, so far, would just be not necessarily restorative. But just like, here’s something I can do to help hide, you know, what I’m going through? Again, yeah, get my head on and get my nails done. So that I sort of, don’t stand out as having, you know, crappy nails and crappy hair, like, yeah, less attention to draw to those kinds of things, the easier it is to hide, ed.

Carissa Dyer 1:11:54
Mm hmm. Yeah. And I’m also just like, educating. Because I know that my, when I told my parents that I was still sick, and that I wanted to do therapy for real this time. They were in shock, and rightfully so. They were also very upset. And like, why didn’t she tell us? You know, why don’t we do this the first time, all this stuff, and I felt so much shame and they’re like, we’re gonna get you better. Like, it’s gonna be okay. And just having, I just wish that I also had someone to educate them a lot. And to help them as a parent, guide them through that process, because I was trying to educate myself through therapy. Yeah, learn how I cope, deal with all my prior trauma, while also trying to educate my fiance who I lived with. And now I have to educate my parents too, who are a lot, a lot more, but by the way, the five and a half hours away because I lived with my fiance and we did not my parents and I did not live in the same state.

Brock Cook 1:13:19
Yep. Yeah, so

Carissa Dyer 1:13:23
And also, I was going to grab also Brock, I was also going to grad school,

Brock Cook 1:13:29
and like something else on top, some little thing

Carissa Dyer 1:13:32
I was about, I was about to enter a whole new phase of my life, and I knew that I had to do do the thing. To be able to go to grad school to be in the right headspace. So yeah, I mean, I made it out now. And like that, just that portion. I mean, it was it was a lot. So yeah, I mean, just like throughout my literature review, like I just talked about kind of what I told you like the self care, leisure exploration, going and eating at restaurants. I’m having

Brock Cook 1:14:15
aging in those usual age appropriate. Yeah.

Carissa Dyer 1:14:19
yells Yeah, yeah. And having exposure challenges that technical term that I found for it is vivo exposure challenges. And it can be a weekly intervention for individualized therapy or group therapy that people can do, to also have a community like outing and stuff so because it can be overwhelming and overstimulating in a restaurant environment,

Brock Cook 1:14:48
that something that you still do, like, challenge yourself to, I guess, do things that you previously couldn’t or are working on being able to Do excetera

Carissa Dyer 1:15:01
Yeah, yeah, so my therapist and I, we used to do it when I was first with her and outpatient therapy. But now it’s kind of, you know, the exposure challenges have kind of dropped a little bit because I’ve been doing them just on my own without her prompting me to do them. But yeah, one of my biggest triggers was eating a burrito. I could not for the life of me get through an entire Chipotle a burrito. without feeling triggered. And feeling like I needed my fiance to physically lay on top of me until my anxiety attack be your way sounds like it. Yeah, to be my way to blanket. And I mean, he’s a little bit taller than I am. He’s not that much taller than I am. But having just that other heartbeat on mine, too, is very regulating when your heart is going a million miles an hour. Yeah.

Brock Cook 1:16:07
I can only Yeah, what he thought the first time you asked him to try that.

Carissa Dyer 1:16:13
Yeah, he was like, You want me to do what? I’m gonna, I’m gonna crush you. I’m like, No, you’re not. It’s okay. And if you do I stop breathing. Just get off me and slap me awake. It’s fine. I’ll be okay. I’ll start breathing eventually.

Brock Cook 1:16:33
Not sure that’s a good first day, but no, it’s

Carissa Dyer 1:16:36
it’s not. But I would recommend that to be your first cup. Yeah, um, yeah, but those very sensory seeking things like I would, I would seek and I had a fidget ring for for a little while when I first started, you know, managing my anxiety without my eating disorder. And turning to trying to figure out medications to help manage my anxiety symptoms. Because it took me about a year to figure out which medication worked best for myself. It’s like when I would go shopping like I would per separate on just this one thing that I felt just didn’t look right in a dress or pants. And I first like I didn’t know how to cope with it. And now I’m just like, oh, that’s there. Okay. Move on. On to the next. So, yeah.

Brock Cook 1:17:44
Fascinating.

Carissa Dyer 1:17:47
I know.

Brock Cook 1:17:48
It’s I find this sort of stuff really interesting. Because it’s one of those conditions where most people like are you just, you know, starving yourself because you want to be skinny. Like that’s most people’s opinion on eating disorders. Where they don’t, until they actually like know someone or work with someone who has experienced it. It’s like, a completely it’s like speaking another language, it’s a completely other way that your brain actually processes information and the outcomes when it comes to that information provided. Yeah, so two people one with the eating disorder, one without can look at the same situation, taking the same information and come out with two completely different outcomes from whatever that is just because it’s a completely different way of thinking. Real Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s not an overly productive one. In most cases.

Carissa Dyer 1:18:44
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, when I started to educate my family on a lot of what was going on, you know, inside because they would just ask the why quite like, why did you do this yourself? And, you know, at the time, I didn’t know myself well enough to know why I did that to myself. But like, now I can tell them like it’s because I felt like I had no control over my life. And everything was spiraling out of control. And that was the one thing that I could white knuckle through. Yeah. Basically.

Brock Cook 1:19:21
Yeah, control control and giving people or ensuring people have control but, you know, healthy way is, is a massive part of any mental health practice. Oh, yeah. Yeah. No matter what the condition, especially in an acute setting, like a hospital, people go in there, they often don’t have choice over anything. They don’t know they get brought food, they get told what time that’s happening. They can’t go in or out of the hospital. Sometimes. They can’t have visitors and certain times like a lot of their everyday choices that we take for granted, taken away,

Carissa Dyer 1:20:03
they can’t go to the bathroom when they want it. Yeah. And if they want to, they have to call, I’m in an acute care setting right now for my first level two, rotation. And every time like we tell patients, especially if they’re high fall risk, don’t get up without nursing to do anything, because we don’t want you to fall, which, rightfully so. But also, it’s like that feels so crappy for those people. Because like,

Brock Cook 1:20:34
exactly what my last episode was about.

Carissa Dyer 1:20:36
Yeah, I haven’t had a chance to listen to that one yet, because it just came out. I’m catching up on a lot of my podcasts.

Brock Cook 1:20:44
So get away from me Stop finding you like and all of a sudden you’ve got like,

Carissa Dyer 1:20:49
yeah, I follow that. Yeah, I follow that six. So that’s a lot of

Brock Cook 1:20:56
listening to catch up on. Oh, yeah, I do. That’s, there’s only a couple occupied. So you’ll be fine. You’ll catch that I’m nighttime. Just a couple. It’s fine. You said you you’re looking at running a program in the hospital Like what? What’s the program? Whatever you have you plan yet to design or like, what are you actually going to do?

Carissa Dyer 1:21:17
Yeah, so they the hospital that I’m going to be working with, they already do have an adolescent and young adult eating disorder inpatient program. Um, but there is, I’m not going to say but because it very is. It’s very good that they have an OT on staff, but that one ot has to cover everyone in the hospital and they don’t just treat eating disorders, they treat all mental health. Okay, it’s not a it’s not a very big mental health hospital. But it’s still a mental health

Brock Cook 1:21:52
hospital. And the workload

Carissa Dyer 1:21:54
for one. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And in my research that I did 1.8% of OTS in America, work in a mental health setting,

Brock Cook 1:22:09
how many

Carissa Dyer 1:22:11
1.8%?

Brock Cook 1:22:13
That’s, I would almost put money that probably at least a third, if not more in Australia work in mental health.

Carissa Dyer 1:22:24
Yeah,

Brock Cook 1:22:25
one point eight?

Carissa Dyer 1:22:27
out of, and there are a lot of OTS in America. And 1.8.

Brock Cook 1:22:36
That’s not I’ve Well, I knew it was low. I didn’t know it was that low? Mm hmm.

Carissa Dyer 1:22:41
Yeah. And I’m like, this is not okay. Because we deal so much with that psycho social piece. Yeah. And so what I plan on doing is providing the behavioral health technicians, they’re training on an education on how they can best help their patients who are struggling with eating disorders, providing nursing with education. therapists, like, counselors there, and I would probably do a lot of interprofessional work together. And the OT that’s on staff. I’m so excited to work with him. He seems phenomenal. He’s been there for quite a while now. And has worked in mental health for a really long time. Excuse me, and he’s like, Oh, yeah, bring it on. We love her. We love like the, I don’t know what this woman does. But someone who is very high up and important in that hospital, when I was presenting my project, like, this is what I want to do for you. She was like, I’m here for five minutes. But I just want to say, I love this project. I love OT, I want you to come here and I’m like, okay, so like, I have my I have my site now. Great. But yeah, so just kind of providing that education to and hopefully enhancing what is already built at that behavioral health hospital by going to Colorado observing my expert mentor for a week, because I didn’t have a psychosocial rotation. Yep. I feel birth one because of COVID. Yeah. My first fieldwork that I’m in right now is my first fieldwork that I’ve ever been on because COVID shut. I didn’t have any fieldwork because of COVID it was all online. That’s odd. Yeah. And also, I didn’t really have a ot based psychosocial course at my school, because we were taught by a psychologist, not an OT. So it was basically like retaking psych 101 Just like learning about the diagnosis, symptoms, locations, that’s it because legally she can’t teach us interventions to do. Because she’s not she’s not no d. So, we are very blessed at my school to have a mental health ot at our school. That’s a professor. She’s my expert mentor. She’s my faculty mentor for my project. And she is teaching psychosocial for the first time this semester,

Brock Cook 1:25:28
please.

Carissa Dyer 1:25:31
Yeah, yeah. So she’s starting, like brand new. And she is going to try to give me like a crash course two week Crash Course before I even go to Colorado. On here’s everything that I think is important that you need to know.

Brock Cook 1:25:49
Yeah, that’s, that’s my job at our university. That’s what I do. I teach that Oh, sorry. Second, sexual. Yep. So the I’ve heard many other universities, not just in the States, but around the world that just don’t have. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just that they don’t have the staff that have the experience in order to do now, like hearing that there’s only 1.8 like, that’s the I understand why cuz that’s, yeah, you know, if you take 1.8, and you’re supposed to take at least one staff member for every university in order to cover that aspect of content, then there’s gonna be even less people actually working in the field. Let’s Oh, yeah.

Carissa Dyer 1:26:36
Yeah, because all of nearly all of my professors have either part time or PRN jobs at acute care, hospitals, clinic, outpatient clinics, whatever they choose, wherever they choose to work that they’re passionate about. And there, they get one clinic day a week. So most, because they have to teach the rest of the time in my school, the more like now we have two seasons of enrollment. We have a spring enrollment, which that’s the cohort that I’m in. I’m a spring cohort and we have a fall cohort. Yep. So I started in January of 2020. And we also have a fall cohort that starts in August. Yeah. So you have double students double the work to grade the subjects of all the rotations. And when it’s year round, we also have summer classes too. So

Brock Cook 1:27:38
go, they don’t want to make it easy. No, they

Carissa Dyer 1:27:41
don’t. I mean, they also want to get us out in a good amount of time, because it’s a lot. But yeah, I mean, we’re really lucky to have to have her on staff, because she already has taught me so much and she hasn’t even really taught me psychosocial yet. So I’m really excited for when that time comes to have that crash course.

Brock Cook 1:28:04
That’s awesome. Well, I’m excited to see how it all guys.

Carissa Dyer 1:28:07
I know. Yeah. And I’m taking a couple continuing ed courses to during my capstone to have those as deliverables, which I will also be creating an Instagram too. As a deliverable. For the project. I really wanted to start it like when I reached out to you to record this, but I’m like, I really want to count it as a deliverable. Because if I start it before my capstone can’t out. Yeah, yeah, just wait. Ah, yeah, yeah. But I have like a lot of stuff already that I’ve prepped, that I’m going to be posting and stuff.

Brock Cook 1:28:47
But I can we can let everybody know what it is. Once you start it. There’s no rush. Oh, yeah. Make sure it counts. That’s kind of important.

Carissa Dyer 1:28:55
Yeah, yeah. But um, yeah, I’m going to be taking the embodied recovery, continuing education course. It’s an eating disorder focused continuing education course that’s trauma based for mental health professionals. So any profession can do it, working with someone with an eating disorder. And then the American Occupational Therapy Association actually has a continuing education course on ot practice in eating disorders to Okay, so I think it’s free. I want to say it’s free. Yeah, I don’t I don’t want to hold my breath, though. Because I am an LTI. member. So I think for myself, it would be free then. Yep. Free is good. Yeah. Especially when you’re in debt. Yes.

Brock Cook 1:29:57
Wow. Yeah, that’s a whole nother I’ll pick that one. Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, we’ll have to get you back on once you’ve done the project. And

Carissa Dyer 1:30:07
yeah, thank you so much. This was awesome. It was so nice to put a face to your voice. And

Brock Cook 1:30:14
if it wasn’t the face, you’re expected,

Carissa Dyer 1:30:15
even if it wasn’t at all right, that’s okay.

Brock Cook 1:30:20
For those obviously that wouldn’t have heard our pre recorded conversation she was expecting a long haired surfer apparently imagined her disappointment with a short head not surfer person. even remotely close to anywhere that you could serve. So

Carissa Dyer 1:30:41
that’s just what I pictured for everyone that lives in Australia. When I hear the accent. I’m like long hair and surfer boy.

Brock Cook 1:30:49
never even been surfing in my life. Sorry to disappoint. That’s all right. So we’ll let everyone know Instagram wants you. Once the project starts. We’ll Yeah, Instagram. Yeah. And people can check that out.

Carissa Dyer 1:31:06
Yeah. Thanks so much for your time. This was awesome.

Brock Cook 1:31:10
Thank you for coming out and being open and honest and sharing so much of yourself. Yeah, it’s been really interesting. I’ve very much enjoyed it.

Carissa Dyer 1:31:21
Yeah, you’re welcome.

Brock Cook 1:31:27
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