Colleen Bartlett

@colleen-bartlett | contributor
Hello Dear Reader! I’m glad our paths have crossed. My name is Colleen. I’m a songwriter, soul-searcher, and hope-spreader. I don’t shy away from the ugly, the dark, the struggle. Basically all of the uncool stuff. My hope is that the writing you find here will inspire you to discover serenity in your life, as I seek it in my own. As I’m discovering, it’s not a destination, but a journey. Come join. Brew a cup of tea, put your feet up, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy!

Harmful 'Compliments' When You Have an Eating Disorder

Recently I had an exchange with someone at work that simultaneously made my eyes widen and my heart sink. I believe it’s worth sharing because there’s a message beneath it. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was walking down the hall. Ahead of me was a coworker I’ve known for years. Someone I cross paths with almost daily. What seemed like out of nowhere, she said to me: “You look strange.” Confused by what I’d heard, I said, “What?” ”You look smaller. You lost weight.” Her hands gestured from wide to narrow. Truthfully, my reaction to this comment is a blur because I was so taken aback. She continued: “You are smaller than you were before. You look more beautiful.” These words reverberated inside my brain, almost leaving me speechless. I don’t remember my exact response. But I know I was able to remain composed, which for me is a huge win. My coworker didn’t know, but I’m seven years into anorexia recovery. In my journey, I’ve come to learn that healing isn’t a destination, nor is it linear. There’s no living life without knowing the intimate reality of how anorexia impacted me. It has been 11 days since this person made that comment to me. I suspect it’s on my mind still because it felt like such an unwarranted and objectifying opinion placed on my body. It felt not OK on a visceral level. I recall in that moment soothing myself with these words: “She’s just projecting her own body insecurity onto you. This has nothing to do with your body. You are OK.” I continued about my day. Her words lingered. For someone who has walked through anorexia, this comment wasn’t just a trigger, it felt like a threat. I can’t un-feel or forget the trauma and memory of my body shutting down. Of lying in bed wondering if I’d wake up the next morning. Of barely being able to make it through the day because my body was so tired and weak. While I may remain composed, it has taken many years of therapy and inner work to overcome what goes on inside after a comment like that. For me, losing weight does not represent wearing a different pant size… it was a matter of living or not. In moments such as these, I can’t help but wonder: Did I lose weight? Was there something wrong with my body before? Should I lose weight? I feel disconnected from reality. And from my body. The danger of comments such as those is that part of me gets pleasure by the idea of being smaller. It feels like the eating disorder wants to sneak up on me again. But another part of me is terrified by the thought of losing weight without meaning to. Both scenarios feel unsafe. And frankly, I think it’s heartbreaking to live in a world that praises me for looking smaller. What about looking happy? Or strong? Or healthy? My previous self would have wanted to skip meals after that comment. I would have punished myself through grueling workouts and felt worthless afterward, disturbed by my own body. But I’ve learned. Others will project their pain and self-doubt onto you, even if it’s in words disguised by “compliments.” If you really pay attention, others will reveal their own insecurities even if they don’t realize it. This does not make their words or actions OK. The truth is: I am not immune to comments about my body. I shouldn’t have to be, either. My body is good. Not because of the way I look. But because of who I am.My body does not define my worth. It reflects it.My body is beautiful not because of its shape or size. But because it is my home. Same for you. This comment was so far off from honoring what my body is, and that is why it felt so disrespectful. My body’s sense of worth cannot be taken away by another’s inability to see their own self-worth—or mine. I believe my coworker had no intention of being hurtful or detrimental. I believe she had no idea how her comment made me feel. However, it did make me realize just how little we can know about someone based off their appearance. It made me rethink that quote: “Be kind to everyone, because you don’t know what hidden battles they are facing.” Our words are powerful. Sometimes I miss the innocent young girl I was before anorexia. But I believe in silver linings. I believe every person who is struggling with an eating disorder has an inner strength that is insurmountable. It takes relentless courage to overcome the very thing that is telling you to starve yourself. Where every day is a struggle. Every meal. Every bite. But that strength and courage is the beauty and purpose of healing.

Harmful 'Compliments' When You Have an Eating Disorder

Recently I had an exchange with someone at work that simultaneously made my eyes widen and my heart sink. I believe it’s worth sharing because there’s a message beneath it. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was walking down the hall. Ahead of me was a coworker I’ve known for years. Someone I cross paths with almost daily. What seemed like out of nowhere, she said to me: “You look strange.” Confused by what I’d heard, I said, “What?” ”You look smaller. You lost weight.” Her hands gestured from wide to narrow. Truthfully, my reaction to this comment is a blur because I was so taken aback. She continued: “You are smaller than you were before. You look more beautiful.” These words reverberated inside my brain, almost leaving me speechless. I don’t remember my exact response. But I know I was able to remain composed, which for me is a huge win. My coworker didn’t know, but I’m seven years into anorexia recovery. In my journey, I’ve come to learn that healing isn’t a destination, nor is it linear. There’s no living life without knowing the intimate reality of how anorexia impacted me. It has been 11 days since this person made that comment to me. I suspect it’s on my mind still because it felt like such an unwarranted and objectifying opinion placed on my body. It felt not OK on a visceral level. I recall in that moment soothing myself with these words: “She’s just projecting her own body insecurity onto you. This has nothing to do with your body. You are OK.” I continued about my day. Her words lingered. For someone who has walked through anorexia, this comment wasn’t just a trigger, it felt like a threat. I can’t un-feel or forget the trauma and memory of my body shutting down. Of lying in bed wondering if I’d wake up the next morning. Of barely being able to make it through the day because my body was so tired and weak. While I may remain composed, it has taken many years of therapy and inner work to overcome what goes on inside after a comment like that. For me, losing weight does not represent wearing a different pant size… it was a matter of living or not. In moments such as these, I can’t help but wonder: Did I lose weight? Was there something wrong with my body before? Should I lose weight? I feel disconnected from reality. And from my body. The danger of comments such as those is that part of me gets pleasure by the idea of being smaller. It feels like the eating disorder wants to sneak up on me again. But another part of me is terrified by the thought of losing weight without meaning to. Both scenarios feel unsafe. And frankly, I think it’s heartbreaking to live in a world that praises me for looking smaller. What about looking happy? Or strong? Or healthy? My previous self would have wanted to skip meals after that comment. I would have punished myself through grueling workouts and felt worthless afterward, disturbed by my own body. But I’ve learned. Others will project their pain and self-doubt onto you, even if it’s in words disguised by “compliments.” If you really pay attention, others will reveal their own insecurities even if they don’t realize it. This does not make their words or actions OK. The truth is: I am not immune to comments about my body. I shouldn’t have to be, either. My body is good. Not because of the way I look. But because of who I am.My body does not define my worth. It reflects it.My body is beautiful not because of its shape or size. But because it is my home. Same for you. This comment was so far off from honoring what my body is, and that is why it felt so disrespectful. My body’s sense of worth cannot be taken away by another’s inability to see their own self-worth—or mine. I believe my coworker had no intention of being hurtful or detrimental. I believe she had no idea how her comment made me feel. However, it did make me realize just how little we can know about someone based off their appearance. It made me rethink that quote: “Be kind to everyone, because you don’t know what hidden battles they are facing.” Our words are powerful. Sometimes I miss the innocent young girl I was before anorexia. But I believe in silver linings. I believe every person who is struggling with an eating disorder has an inner strength that is insurmountable. It takes relentless courage to overcome the very thing that is telling you to starve yourself. Where every day is a struggle. Every meal. Every bite. But that strength and courage is the beauty and purpose of healing.

Realizing Life Will Never Be the Same as Before My Eating Disorder

October feels like an anniversary to me, but not in a happy, “congratulations” kind of way. October is when the little whispers of my eating disorder began to take control of my life. I had no idea what road this would lead me down. A road that was twisty, dark and seemingly unending. Six years ago, I began to be afraid of my own body. Six years ago, I started to believe food was an enemy coming to invade me. Six years ago, I began to distrust my instincts. Six years ago, the noise in my head began to drown out the voice in my heart. Six years ago; I look back and think, “that’s when it all started to change.” There’s a beauty and a sorrow in realizing I will never be the same as I was before anorexia nervosa . In a sense, I lost part of my innocence — a youthful part of me that didn’t understand pain, shame and fear to the extent I do now. Although I see anorexia —and the emotional roller coaster that followed — as my greatest spiritual teacher and a catalyst to living a more authentic and meaningful life, it didn’t come without a price. Experiencing darkness invites us to search more deeply for the light. To become that light for others. To become that voice of hope. To search within for the strength we all have. The thing about painful experiences is that we aren’t meant to be the same as we were before. I don’t believe that’s what the healing journey is about. Wholeness is a way of living and being — it’s not a destination. The lessons I’ve learned from my own trials have led me to deeper compassion and understanding for others and myself. It has led me to deeper connection with the world around me and my own fragility. I believe that is the “purpose” of pain and healing. It comes to expand our hearts and sift anything that stands in the way of our truest selves. When we surrender to the inevitable setbacks in life, we create space within to transform. Our fear becomes courage. Our weakness becomes resilience. Our loss becomes appreciation. Our loneliness becomes connection. Our despair becomes hope. That is the journey of the human heart. It is a gut-wrenching, soul-igniting, magnificent whirlwind of a lifetime. Somedays, I wish I was further along in the journey — somewhere else rather than where I am right n ow. The eating disorder still whi spers in my mind, but the voice in my heart grows stronger because I’ve learned to listen to it and trust its guidance. As I continue to embrace my own path of becoming whole, I look back with a reverent gratitude for all of the lessons that my darkest moments have taught me. My humanness connects me to every other person. Some days are harder than others; some months trigger certain memories and emotions, but I’m gradually learning to… Laugh more. Forgive faster. Run freely. Speak up. Listen deeply. Show up for others. Be present. Appreciate everything. On the days when it feels more difficult to accept myself and when my mind is spinning in the chaos, I remember that the beauty of life is that our pain creates a depth in our hearts that allows us to love more deeply and be loved in return. May life’s precious moments take our breath away. May the simple joys create a grateful heart. And may the difficulties remind us of the strength we have within.

Community Voices

How do you deal with being lonely?

I get super lonely at times and have a tendency to think I am the only one in the world going through this but then I remember something that helps me feel better I reach out to someone to let them know I am thinking of them. This act of kindness helps me get out of my loneliness rut. So this is how I deal with being alone. What about you?

#IfYouFeelHopeless #MentalHealth #Suicide

5 people are talking about this
Community Voices

What are small reminders that keep you going? #IfYouFeelHopeless

Hey Mighties - lets start a list of reasons why we keep going to look at as reminders when we're struggling.

I'll start with my reminders:
1. Getting coffee with my dog every morning.
2. An ocean sunset & moonrise.
3. Telling someone I love them/giving bear hugs.
4. Flowers blooming/the seasons changing.
5. Books that take me to new worlds.

What would you add?

#MentalHealth #Suicide #Depression #Anxiety #EatingDisorders #ChronicIllness

60 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I believe in Rock bottoms. Here's why.

Many of us grow up learning to hide, conceal and mask. We've been conditioned to desensitize from our own hearts and emotions. Shielding ourselves becomes a necessity just to get by. Overtime, we lose connection with our inner selves, and what it is that truly sets us on fire.

As a songwriter, recording in the studio is where I encountered myself for the first time. My tendency to hide came flaring up. How can I be perfect and vulnerable all at the same time? The microphone felt all too close--amplifying my pain and my fears.

Despite everything that surfaced in the studio, I knew I was touching on something deep and sacred inside and this intrigued me. Although I experienced excruciating anxiety while recording my music due to all of the locked up emotions unraveling from inside--and I didn't know where it was all coming from--I felt as though a door in the cave of my heart had been opened. I was able to express the pain that depression and anorexia had put me through. I tapped into an inner sanctuary, emotionally and spiritually. I realize now, it was during this time of making my album, that I was breaking open. Breaking into place.

Hitting rock bottom is a call for a new beginning, to awaken to the light we have inside.

Sending strength to anyone who feels they can't go on and get through another day. You are stronger than the pain. The world needs you.

4 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I believe in Rock bottoms. Here's why.

Many of us grow up learning to hide, conceal and mask. We've been conditioned to desensitize from our own hearts and emotions. Shielding ourselves becomes a necessity just to get by. Overtime, we lose connection with our inner selves, and what it is that truly sets us on fire.

As a songwriter, recording in the studio is where I encountered myself for the first time. My tendency to hide came flaring up. How can I be perfect and vulnerable all at the same time? The microphone felt all too close--amplifying my pain and my fears.

Despite everything that surfaced in the studio, I knew I was touching on something deep and sacred inside and this intrigued me. Although I experienced excruciating anxiety while recording my music due to all of the locked up emotions unraveling from inside--and I didn't know where it was all coming from--I felt as though a door in the cave of my heart had been opened. I was able to express the pain that depression and anorexia had put me through. I tapped into an inner sanctuary, emotionally and spiritually. I realize now, it was during this time of making my album, that I was breaking open. Breaking into place.

Hitting rock bottom is a call for a new beginning, to awaken to the light we have inside.

Sending strength to anyone who feels they can't go on and get through another day. You are stronger than the pain. The world needs you.

4 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I believe in Rock bottoms. Here's why.

Many of us grow up learning to hide, conceal and mask. We've been conditioned to desensitize from our own hearts and emotions. Shielding ourselves becomes a necessity just to get by. Overtime, we lose connection with our inner selves, and what it is that truly sets us on fire.

As a songwriter, recording in the studio is where I encountered myself for the first time. My tendency to hide came flaring up. How can I be perfect and vulnerable all at the same time? The microphone felt all too close--amplifying my pain and my fears.

Despite everything that surfaced in the studio, I knew I was touching on something deep and sacred inside and this intrigued me. Although I experienced excruciating anxiety while recording my music due to all of the locked up emotions unraveling from inside--and I didn't know where it was all coming from--I felt as though a door in the cave of my heart had been opened. I was able to express the pain that depression and anorexia had put me through. I tapped into an inner sanctuary, emotionally and spiritually. I realize now, it was during this time of making my album, that I was breaking open. Breaking into place.

Hitting rock bottom is a call for a new beginning, to awaken to the light we have inside.

Sending strength to anyone who feels they can't go on and get through another day. You are stronger than the pain. The world needs you.

4 people are talking about this
Community Voices

A word of encouragement for you!

I have come to the beautiful realization that strength and fragility go together. Roses are a beautiful reminder of this paradox. Fighting inner battles that others' cannot see or understand can feel isolating. People might see us as "fragile" or "sensitive."  Truly, survivors of mental health struggles are some of the strongest people. We fight battles others cannot see and understand and continue bravely even when the day feels unbearable from the moment we open our eyes in the morning. This a little reminder that you are never alone.

6 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Dont you think for even a second that you were not created beautiful.
That your beauty marks are ugly and full of flaws.
That your constellations of freckles were not ordained and named by the Maker of the stars.
That your wild hair needs to be different.
That your rivers of veins were made for destruction, that when the tears stop flowing, the blood flows in its place.
Dont you know that you are private property that is to be cared for and respected with utmost concern?
Dont you know, beloved, that you are created by love and for love- that the very breath that gave you life can revive you yet again?
Dont you know that your words, your story- they are needed in this world. For there is nobody quite like you.
Dont you know that no one can take your place in this life- because you are the only person with your story, your heart, your feelings, your passions and dreams.
Dont you know that you are worth so much more?
#MentalHealth #MightyPoets #Anxiety #Depression #SuicidalThoughts #Selfharm #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #BipolarDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #beyondworthy

12 people are talking about this