30 days of hope project

JUNE is HERE! That means that #30DaysOfHope begins now!

Ugly Ducklings, we know that through this community we have helped, support and encourage lots of people, and both our lives as well as theirs have been touched by the positivity and the advice that we post here.

Two of our dear friends from when we got this movement going, Zachery, and Amy  -who are part of the Once Upon a Fan website- came to us to get this thing going. What better way to bring each other up than with #30DaysOfHope? 

So come! Don’t miss this for the world! Remember to follow us on Twitter, @UDucklingsInc, as well as @TheZachVan, and @Amylia403

30 Days of Hope

How telling her Ugly Duckling Story changed her life

Beautifully made
We are still in awe with this beautiful post by Emily, whose Ugly Duckling Story we shared a couple of months ago. Here’s part 1 of Beautifully Made. Make sure you leave comments for her below!

Ever since I shared my story with Ugly Ducklings Inc, my perception on events have changed and many of them I saw mirrored in my daily life.

The idea of Beautifully Made came up about a year ago, but I really had no basis for it when I was still battling within myself. However, I decided to re-launch this cause recently because the timing was finally right.

After I finally got my story out there it has been easier to smile and I want others to be able to feel that joy as well. Recently I revisited my old church where many teenage girls were talking about their life problems and that is when I realized that maybe the deep scars only brought by those closest to you are not that uncommon.

There were a massive amount that were abandoned by their fathers or were abused and each of them seemed to be taking it out on themselves. Whether with cutting, an eating disorder, or drugs, they were experiencing shame and pain beyond measure because of what someone else had done to them.

What Beautifully Made was created for is a safe haven for these young ladies to share their stories and gradually come to the point of acceptance. Teaching them that what may have happened was never their fault and to try and teach them to love every part of themselves.

When someone has hurt you to the point of destroying a large part of you, there is a space of darkness that eats you alive.

Only when you accept what happened, forgive whoever had done it, and release that pain can you really go forward.

That is the objective that I am trying to accomplish with this growing group. No story is too deep and damaged that you cannot recover from it.

The core of what we stand for is within Psalm 139, it is a very good projection of what we will all try to understand about ourselves and the world around us.

Psalm 139

We are starting as a small group meeting at a friend’s house and a Facebook page, but I am hoping that we can make the idea spread.

This is not just a problem in the small state of North Carolina, it is worldwide. Even giving just the smallest bit of hope to those going down similar paths that we have previously walked through can mean all the difference.

Even if you are still recovering from old wounds you can help influence others for the better.

I guess I’m just trying to say that whatever you have been through or are going through, every piece of you is beautiful.

– Emily

Emily is 20 years old, and lives in North Carolina. For years she struggled with depression, an eating disorder, and self-harm.  About five years down the line she decided to share her story in the hopes of helping others with similar struggles.  After the idea came about, the rest is history.

I am an introverted person, and it’s okay

Introversion. A strength, not a weakness

In honor of May being Self-Discovery month, I wanted to share a recent discovery that I made about myself.

I’ve never been a very social person. Most of you might not know this, but I am a very quiet person. I’ve been this way my entire life, and it’s not that I’m shy or depressed or antisocial, I just prefer not to talk. I’m more of a listen-and-observe kind of girl.

Growing up I was always made fun of for being quiet. From 5th grade all through high school, I was labeled as “quiet girl”.

About introverted peopleI was always looked at differently just because I didn’t like talking. I lost the majority of my friends, because they thought it was un-cool to hang out with someone who didn’t talk or initiate conversation.

Everyone that I knew, including my family made it seem like being quiet was a bad thing. Not once in my life, including today, has a person told me that it was okay to be quiet, that it was okay to be me.

I started believing what everyone said. I thought for the longest time that something was wrong with me, that not being talkative was bad, I thought that maybe I would just snap out of it one day, but it never came.

Then, a few weeks ago, I made one of the most empowering discoveries about myself that I’ve ever made.

I was on Pinterest, I was looking at a bunch of inspirational quotes when I noticed one that really hit me hard. The quote was talking about Introverts.

Fact about an introvert person

I was completely moved, yet confused when I read this. How was being quiet an art? I always thought that being quiet was a bad thing. I wanted to know more, so I began researching and looking up more quotes.

I started with looking up the definition.

What are introvert people like?

Introverts (for those who don’t know) are people, who are very quiet and reserved. They are more interested in self-knowledge or self-understanding. Instead of going to a big social gathering they would prefer to stay at home and read a good book.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I felt like I had a disease my entire life and I was finally finding out what it was. This one sentence had described my entire life.

This glimmer of hope began to build in me, at realizing that I was not alone.

Famous people who are introverts

I also discovered that many of the world’s most famous and greatest people were introverts.

  • Albert Einstein
  • Steve Jobs
  • Emma Watson
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Warren Buffett
  • Rosa Parks
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Ingrid Bergman

Here are some more famous people who are introverts.

Continue reading

Recovering from alcoholism, and an eating disorder

Sitting ducks with Robyn Cruze

April is about to end, and besides raising awareness on autism, sexual assault prevention, and child abuse prevention, it is also the time of the year when organizations around the world want to remind people of the danger and damage that alcohol has on a person and their families.

Ugly Ducklings Inc is truly proud to present this podcast, where we talked to Robyn Cruze, who might not ring any bells to many of you, but, when you listen to her you can see the superhero that’s inside her.

Some of the strinking things that she mentioned are:

  • “When my mom told us she was going to die my whole world came undone (…) and I really felt like the eating disorder served that for a really long time”.
  • “I thought my feelings were going to kill me”.
  • “I was viewing my beauty through other people, and I just did not measure up”.
  • “My eating disorder had many phases. It had multiple personalities”. 
  • “When people started calling me ‘Robyn blobbin’ I immedately understood that my body was betraying me, so I went into restriction”.
  • “When we want to start recovery we really need to identify those people that are non-judgemental”.
  • “The more I shared my story with the people that I trust, the more support I got, the more encouragement I got”.
  • “When we can own our story, that’s when we find our purpose, and our passions“.
  • “I’m on the ground, in fetal position and my little girl Lily, she was 3, she came in and said to daddy: ‘Daddy, I think mommy needs a band-aid“.

Every word she said, every thought she shared with us was inspiring. And you can listen to it here:

There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope. 

Child Abuse Awareness month – A post by Charlotte

Ugly Ducklings Inc wants to join the conversation in relation to child abuse and raise awareness on this important matter. Charlotte is not only a survivor, but an example of how there is always hope and a way out. Check our Resources page to find help if you need it. Trigger warning: suicide, sexual abuse, child abuse
From victim to survivor - Child abuse awareness

The stuff that really hurts people, the stuff that almost breaks them… that they won’t talk about. Ever.
– April Tucholke

Growing up I must have asked myself a thousand times, “Why doesn’t my dad love me?”

I wondered what was it that I could have possibly done to have made him so angry all the time. He didn’t drink, he wasn’t a drug addict, no history of mental illness. Not that those are ever excuses for abusive behavior, but at least I would’ve had a medical explanation, or something such as a substance to blame to explain for his actions. Instead, all I had was a father who was just simply evil.

To friends, to outside family, to the world he was the most amazing person anyone ever met. He was hilarious and handsome, had the best personality and was the guy everyone wanted at their party, their workplace, and in their life. He was successful in his career choices, had a home, wife, kids, and even the ladies on the side fell for him.

I would look at this man and think “Why can’t you be like this at home? How is it you have all of these people fooled? Why are you so nice to everyone but us?” It was honestly like watching a real-life Jekyll and Hyde.

I will not go into graphic detail about the abuse that I suffered from his wrath, but know that there is not a place on my body that has not been left untouched by his hand, his mouth, or his anger.

Abuse can come in many forms: physical, sexual, verbal. And I can assure you that all were both present and persistent throughout my childhood and young adulthood.

I was terrified to say anything. He was clever in the fact that he made himself known with his charisma to my educators, to my youth leaders, to my Sunday school teachers. Anyone that I thought that I could’ve turned to for help, he made sure to befriend them and look like the world’s greatest dad to them. It was repulsive, and sickening but in the end I knew that I would one day win.

The first promise I made to myself was that I would never turn out like him. There are too many stories of children who repeat the cycle of abuse, who are so angered by it that they replicate onto others what has been done to them. Instead, I would grow up to help other kids who have suffered from abuse.

Speak outThe second promise I made to myself was that I would get away from him eventually, I would survive the hell of his hands and live to be successful despite his mission to break me. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I wanted my life to just end. You get to a point where you question humanity, God’s existence, and your place in this world. I mean, if the person who helped create you, your very own parent was this cruel, then what was the point in continuing to live? And when I got older, it took some very loving and special people to help me realize that I wasn’t damaged goods, and that someone could truly love me.

I was fortunate in the fact that right before I turned 18, I finally had someone to start asking me questions. Almost four years later, in a very serendipitious way I had somehow befriended my 8th grade Science teacher. Never one to have ever disclosed the horrors of home, I was extremely hesitant to have even trusted her with my secrets. And it would take months of having conversations with her before I did ever let on to what I had and was enduring.

I had honestly thought that my father had “planted” her in my life just to see if I would indeed tell someone about the things that he did. But no, much to my relief he wasn’t even aware that I had even ran into/formed a friendship with my former teacher.

Then one day, I was standing in my old teacher’s house and she pointed me towards two doors. “We have two guestrooms, pick one.” she said. And in less than 60 days later, her and her husband officially adopted me. I have a new family now.

My biological father did not win. I am a college graduate, a former educator, someone who wants to obtain a psychology degree to help children who come from abusive backgrounds. There was a time when I was terrified of that man. He had all of the power and control. But he has been dead to me for quite some time and I hold all of the cards in regards to my life.

Yes, there are things, unspeakable things that happen to abuse victims. But as long as we are silent, no one will know how to help. If you are being abused, change your status from victim to survivor. Speak out and do not let what has happened to you dictate your self worth.

Charlotte has collaborated with Ugly Ducklings Inc in the past and we cannot thank her enough for this post. If you would like to contact her, click here.

Matt Westel – “Rethinking Everything”


We are beginning to wrap up our Eating Disorder Awareness Week blog series – we have two final posts to share with you. But this isn’t the end. I urge everyone to continue to find out more information about eating disorders; the blogs we’ve shared this week weren’t shared just because this is a designated week – they were shared because they are powerful, inspiring stories that provide educational information to anyone who is struggling with one of these illnesses. There is always lots of information available on Mental Fitness Inc’s website, as well as the NEDA website. Additionally, read back through our blogs from this series and you’ll be able to find a plethora of amazing people and resources.

Today, we are featuring a piece written by Matt Westel. This piece was originally published on the Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves‘ website.

”Thinking about recovery, I worried about who I would be and what would be left of me afterward. As weird as it can sound, anorexia had become like a close friend.

Neda Quiz. Male, eating disorders

Credit: nedawareness.org/quiz

Matt writes about his struggle with anorexia and the subsequent recovery choices he was faced with. If we learned one thing from NEDA’s quiz earlier this week, it is that men struggle with eating disorders too (although society tends to view this as a “women’s problem”). Matt also points out that it is the symptoms of the eating disorder itself that makes it difficult for some to obtain treatment:

”I should mention – a lot of those feelings of positive affect towards an eating disorder are perpetuated by malnourishment. It’s like I always say – a poorly nourished body and mind are a poorly functioning body and mind. We can’t possibly expect to be in full control of our thoughts, feelings, and rationality when our bodies aren’t getting what they need to function properly.”

How true is that? When someone is literally starving, it is very difficult to be in control and force your mind and body to function the way you think it should. Robyn Cruze’s piece, posted earlier this week, also talks about this. But… there is hope!

“… Recovery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most worthwhile. Without recovery, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish many of the things I’ve done since.”

It is worthwhile to get recovered. And you deserve it. Thank you so much, Matt, for your words of wisdom and for sharing your story! Check out Matt’s full blog here.

After suffering from anorexia as an undergraduate in college, Matt Wetsel got involved with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) in 2007. He joined the EDC Junior Board in Spring 2011, focusing on volunteer recruitment and state-level organizing year-round. He started his blog, …Until Eating Disorders Are No More, in early 2011. Check out his blog and find out more about Matt here! You can also follow Matt on twitter.