Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Virtual Advocacy Day on May 17, 2022 - Malinda Ann Hill Shares Her Story on Capitol Hill

Today is our 51st birthday and I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend Eating Disorders Coalition (@EDCoalition) Virtual Advocacy Day (#EDCHillDay) on Tuesday, May 17. I joined advocates from across the country who shared our experiences with eating disorders and asked Congress to support important legislation. Here is my story that I shared on Capitol Hill yesterday. For more information on how you can help, visit: http://eatingdisorderscoalition.org.


My name is Malinda Ann Hill and I recently moved to Charlottesville, VA after living in Philadelphia for over 20 years.

My identical twin was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when we were only 11 years old. Tomorrow, we turn 51. Forty years ago, eating disorders in children were extremely rare and education of health care providers was nonexistent. Our pediatrician ordered every test imaginable because he had no training on eating disorders and did not recognize that my twin’s drastic weight loss was intentional.  Fortunately, my twin recovered.

Unfortunately, my battle with anorexia nervosa began when we were 15 and my struggle continues today. Over the past 35 years, there were times when I was severely ill and unable to function. There were also times when I was able to manage my symptoms, allowing me to earn my masters’ degree in marital and family therapy with a specialization in art therapy, pursue a meaningful career as bereavement coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, raise my daughter on my own, and run marathons with my twin to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. 

Since I was unable to access the treatment I needed in my late teens and early twenties, I suffered the devastating mental and physical consequences as a result of surviving decades with an eating disorder. Shortly after the pandemic began in 2020, my eating disorder spiraled out of control. My mental and physical health rapidly declined to the point that I was unable to work and care for my daughter. I knew that I desperately needed help and I had to seek treatment as soon as possible. I feared the pandemic would trigger a mental health crisis and I was correct.

After taking 3 months of medical leave of absence from work to participate in a virtual partial hospitalization program, I had to return to work too soon because I could not afford to continue treatment even with health insurance. I did my best to manage my debilitating symptoms on my own but after several months my mental and physical  health rapidly deteriorated again so I was forced to take another medical leave of absence from work. Several months after returning to treatment, I was notified that the hospital could no longer hold my position while I was on medical leave so I lost my job of nearly 20 years. Subsequently, I lost my health insurance and access to the in-person partial hospitalization program I was attending because it wouldn’t accept Medicaid.

Over the past 6 months, it has been impossible to access the level of eating disorder treatment I need through Medicaid. I have been able to seek help through multiple medical providers because I have been suffering severe physical consequences as a result of my eating disorder. I am grateful to have a team of medical providers who are compassionate, knowledgeable and aware of the complex mental and physical consequences of eating disorders.

Last year, I shared my story for the first time during EDC Virtual Advocacy Day. Although it was difficult for me to admit how much I was struggling, I felt empowered and hopeful after joining other advocates. With all the obstacles I have encountered over the past year, there have been far too many days when I have lost all hope and fear that I will be one of too many who will continue to suffer or die as a result of an eating disorder. Even on my darkest days, I want to do all I can to help others who are at risk or suffering like me. I am grateful for every opportunity to share my story to raise awareness and support.

I believe legislation to support education, research, prevention and early intervention is crucial so children, teens and adults will not have to suffer for decades like I have or die as a result of their eating disorders like far too many have. Please co-sponsor and support the Anna Westin Legacy Act and the Kids Online Safety Act so all children and adults suffering or those at-risk for eating disorders have access to the care and understanding they deserve. 



Thursday, May 5, 2022

Support Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) Virtual Advocacy Day on May 17, 2022

I am grateful for the opportunity to be an Advocate with Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC).

EDC brings advocates together once a year for national Advocacy Days to educate Members of Congress and push for important policy goals.

I will share my story on Capitol Hill on EDC Virtual Advocacy Day on May 17th so I can influence federal policy and make a difference in the lives of those affected by eating disorders.

You can also get involved and show your support by sharing information on your social media accounts and contacting your Members of Congress. 

Sign up to receive a social media tool kit here: http://bit.ly/3KuXUm6

Thank you for your support!
​Malinda Ann Hill

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

C-VILLE-athon



Thank you, Leah Connor, for managing everything for the C-VILLE-athon from 2015-2020.



LEAH CONNOR | C-VILLE-athon Streakers

I'm very proud of my volunteer work promoting the C-VILLE-athon from 2015-2020. I created logos for the finisher shirts as well as managed all registrations, checklists, website, digital marketing, and social media. Learn more about my nonprofit work at twinsrun.com and agoodgroup.com. THANK YOU!

My favorite race in the C-VILLE-athon is the Montalto Challenge. It's the only race that I've completed every year since it started! My second favorite event is the All-Comers Summer Track Meets. Not only is it the oldest running event in Charlottesville (started in 1975), it's also the cheapest! You can run two events that count in the C-VILLE-athon (The Mile and the 5K or 2 Miler) for just $2 (only $1 if you're a CTC member).

Supporting local non-profit organizations in the community is one of the main reasons I love racing. When Mark Lorenzoni approached me with the idea for the C-VILLE-athon I was excited to help promote the challenge because I knew it would help encourage runners to register for races they might never have participated in before.

I've always been obsessed with racing because it's the fun way to get in some speed work! Having a checklist to monitor my progress throughout the year has been fun and motivating. I might not be setting any PRs anymore, but I like to challenge myself to get out there and compete. In 2015, I ran 98 miles in C-VILLE-athon races, in 2016 I completed 82 miles. In 2017 I was injured and couldn't run or race for 2 months, but I still managed to log 62 miles. Phew! :) I ran 21 different events in 2018, but I still have a few races I've never entered that I need to add to my checklist in 2019. My goal is to run every race in the C-VILLE-athon at least once! I wish my identical twin sister could make it from Philly to Cville to complete the C-VILLE-athon too, but I always bring my "flat twin" with me to the races!

Obsessive running and racing data can be found on my website!
agoodgroup.com


The Haven 8K Run for Home by Leah Connor




The Haven 8K Run for Home
3/20/2022

I felt like there was a lot of symbolism in my experience running The Haven 8K Run for Home on Saturday, March 19. I experienced compliments and rejection, recognition and invisibility, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. Pretty intense stuff for a fun run and my first “race” of 2022.

I was fortunate to receive a ride to the race with my friend and frequent trivia teammate, Hernan. He was a few minutes early (which I love), but it put me in a panicked scramble to get myself out the door so I forgot my race bib. #RookieMistake

I realized I didn’t have my bib as soon as I got out of his car. I didn’t want to be "that person" who has to admit they messed up and then beg for a new number at the registration table, but there I was in that exact situation.

I expected this race was going to be challenging because my running pace has slowed significantly and I anticipated seeing people in the running community for the first time in 6 months. Having to start the day by asking for a new bib was not exactly what I had planned in terms of just "laying low."

Luckily, Audrey Lorenzoni Sackson was at the registration table and was more than willing to help me with a new bib. When I saw her husband, Stewart, I asked them how married life was going. I remembered the best recommendation I ever got from a couples therapist was to read How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. I recently gave that book as a wedding present to a close friend because I found it to be so useful and insightful.

I ran a couple miles before the race and smiled every time I saw a Ten Miler or other race shirt that I designed. It's the little things that lift my spirits and I felt pure joy when I saw the designs I created being worn by my fellow runners. I greatly appreciate this continued connection with our local running community.






My identical twin sister, Malinda Ann, came with us to cheer the runners (and entertain the spectators) as an inflatable T-Rex. I was excited to snap a few photos of her proudly displaying her sign, "You'll be Dino-SORE tomorrow!!" and her "TWINS RUN in our family" tote bag.

I started the race off slowly and tried not to pressure myself or worry about my performance. Lately, I’ve been running 12-14 minute miles so my only goal was to run faster than that. It felt good to see familiar faces along the course, to hear personal shout outs (“Go Leah!”) and to receive compliments on my sparkly running skirt (a version of the asexual flag in honor of my daughter). My playlist (RUN FOR HOME PLAYLIST) kept me going and I even passed 5 or so people in the second half of the race which is always great for a boost of confidence. As I approached the finish line, I saw my twin cheering and it made me smile.

Mark Lorenzoni called my name as I crossed the finish line and I kept running because it has been very difficult since he walked away from me. I miss his presence in my life and I am sad I had to end my volunteer work with the Charlottesville Track Club. Even though the transition has not been easy, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to help him with the Charlottesville Track Club for more than 13 years and Ragged Mountain Running Shop for over 6 years. While I know it can be uncomfortable, difficult or painful when friendships, partnerships or collaborations end, I understand and accept that some relationships cannot continue for reasons beyond my control.

I was lucky to see my friend, Marti, after the race and I got a great photo of her standing beside my twin, the T-Rex. I’ve always appreciated Marti's warmth, compassion, and willingness to lend a hand, especially with the Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon. I thanked her for all she’s done and for being the light when I’ve seen a lot of darkness. I gave her a huge hug and went to get a mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream at Mudhouse.



After the race, I checked the results and saw that I wasn’t listed. At first, I thought it was a blessing in disguise because my time was so much slower than my performance two years ago, the last time the race was in-person. However, I did use the online form to report the issue because I am not ashamed of my time. I’m actually proud of myself for still getting out there when I know I’m not in my best shape and nowhere near my PRs from 2012. Although I’m no longer competitive, I’m still showing up because running has been and continues to be such an important part of my life. I can find happiness and connection in being a part of the communal race experience even when I know I won’t take home an award. I always want to appreciate the joy of running and to support important causes in my community.

The Ten Miler is next week. It’ll most certainly be my slowest time ever on the course and I’m looking forward to enjoying every minute I have on the streets of Charlottesville with other runners and community members.


RUN FOR HOME PLAYLIST














Thursday, March 17, 2022

St. Patrick's Day 2022 - Running Together in Memory of Michael & GG


Michael, Leah's Irish brother-in-law, died from relapsed childhood leukemia on St. Patrick’s Day 2003. 

Ten years ago today, Leah and Malinda Ann joined Team Lemon so we could run our first Bank of America Chicago Marathon together in his memory to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. 

Over the years, we’ve continued to run together (Boston Marathon, runDisney, Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, Charlottesville Women's Four Miler) and solo (Twins Run 50K, Philadelphia Marathon, Blue Cross Broad Street Run, Charlottesville Track Club, Charlottesville Speedsters, Charlottesville Ten Miler, Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon, The San Francisco Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon) to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. 

As of today, we’ve raised over $7,000 in memory of Michael and our Irish grandmother, Aileen, affectionately known as GG. 

We’re extremely grateful for your ongoing support and generous donations over the years. 

Thank you. ☘️



Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Revolutionary Love - An Update from Malinda Ann HIll


Over the past two years, it has been difficult for me to share my experience when I feel unwell and hopeless. I continue to share my experience to raise awareness and encourage compassion for those suffering with mental illness.

On March 23, 2020, I entered treatment for an eating disorder, depression, anxiety and PTSD exacerbated by the pandemic and the stalking I experienced for over 11 years.

On June 30, 2020, I left treatment too soon because I couldn’t afford to continue.

On March 15, 2021, I re-entered treatment for an eating disorder, depression, anxiety and PTSD exacerbated by another stalking incident.

On October 1, 2021, I lost my job of nearly 20 years because the organization could no longer hold my position while I was on medical leave.

On March 15, 2022, I remain heartbroken that I can't return to the position that was meaningful to me.

While this has been a challenging year of treatment and transitions, I am grateful for the support I've received and continue to receive from family, friends, and people who care.

Thank you to Ani DiFranco for "Revolutionary Love" - a song I listen to whenever I need inspiration to continue on my road of recovery.

Revolutionary Love
I will tend my anger
I will tend my grief
I will achieve safety
I will find relief
I'll show myself mercy
I'll show myself respect
Yes, and I'll decide when I'm ready
To forgive but not forget

And I will ask you, I'll ask you questions
And I will try, try to understand
And if you give me your story
I will hold it in my hands

Yeah, I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love

(Revolution)
(Revolution)
(Revolution)

And even if you hurt me
I will not shut down
No, you can't make me hate you
And carry that hate around
Yeah, I will see no stranger
Only parts of myself I don't yet know
Yes, and I'll see right through evil
To a wound, too scared to show

Yeah, I have the power to stay open
Oh, I have the power to be
The one that I've been waiting for
The one who sets me free

Yeah, I can bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I can bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I can bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love

(Revolution)
(Revolution)
(Revolution)

Oh, well I will tend my anger
Yes, I will tend my grief
I will achieve safety
Yeah, I will find relief
Yeah, I'll show myself mercy
I will show myself respect
Yes, and I'll decide when I'm ready
To forgive but not forget

And I'll ask you, ask you questions
And I will try, try to understand
And if you give me your story
I will hold it in my hands

And I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
Yes, I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love

Yes, I could bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I will bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
I can bring the love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love (the love, the love)
The revolutionary love



Saturday, March 12, 2022

TWINS RUN UPDATE ⏰ by leah connor

 
Thank you for helping me and my twin celebrate our 50th birthday last year with a donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand and/or a selfie with Flat Twins Run.

Our 50th year doesn’t end until May 18 and we’d love even more photos to share in our #TwinsRun50 montage. Take a selfie or, if you're camera shy, set up a photo in a place that's special to you or with your pet!

A lot has changed in the past year and you can read about most of it on my blog.

* Ann (aka Malinda/Mindy) has been living with me for the past 6 months as she struggles with her eating disorder.
* I’ve interviewed with 50 companies since I’ve turned 50 and am still trying to figure out what I want to be in my second act.
* My volunteer work with the Charlottesville Track Club ends with the Ten Miler on March 26.

Two years ago I had my last normal day before COVID-19 changed everything. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. Please know that you have been in my thoughts and I’d love to hear from you about how you’re doing. If there’s anything I can do to support you, please ask. 

Love and peace,

leah

linkedin.com/company/twinsrun

linkedin.com/in/leahannconnor

twitter.com/leahcville

facebook.com/runleahruncville

instagram.com/leahcville

Visit my blog to learn more about what's been going on in my life!

agoodgroup.com/blog

twinsrun.com 



Tuesday, January 11, 2022

ALIVE Notes - Hip Hop & Mental Health

The power of music is both undeniable and scientifically proven. It can help us run faster, reduce pain, increase relaxation, and even save a life.

In 2017, hip hop artist Logic released his powerful song “1-800-273-8255” about suicidal ideation, recovery, and the power of hope. The title comes from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and research recently published in the British Medical Journal indicates the popularity of the song could have saved as many as 245 lives with an increase in call volume to the hotline.

There’s actually a name for the persuasive power of mass media in helping those considering suicide to choose not to complete the final act: the Papageno effect.

Hip hop has a long history of tackling the difficult topic of mental health. In 1982, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five released “The Message” which vividly describes social injustice and the toll on Black lives:

“It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under”
“Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head”

Research has shown that the number of rap songs referencing mental health conditions doubled from 1998 to 2018. If more songs address the struggles with and treatment of mental disorders such as depression and PTSD, then it’s possible that the stigma and cultural resistance to seeking professional help will change over time.

It’s vitally important for more musicians and artists to be honest about their own experiences with anxiety or suicidal thoughts so that we normalize discussions about mental illness and treatment.

Unfortunately, multiple studies have shown an exponential growth in suicide rates and attempts amongst Black youth, especially girls and the age of those who are dying is getting even younger. One of the most startling statistics of racial disparities is that Black children under 13 die by suicide at almost twice the rate of white children under 13.

We need to reduce the stigma attached to suffering from mental health conditions and the need to seek professional help with or without medication.

Avoiding conversations about the realities of suicide doesn’t prevent it. We need the survivors of suicide (both those who have attempted and those who have lost a loved one due to mental illness) to speak up and help dispel the myths. We need to teach kids coping skills, where to go for help, and examples of overcoming a temporary mental condition or living productive lives with ongoing treatment of mental illness.

Some people think suicide is selfish or that it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Sadly, many of those who die by suicide have lifelong personality disorders or other chronic health conditions (mental or physical) that cannot be cured and require ongoing treatment and medication. It’s impossible to know whether or not someone’s life experiences that lead to suicidal thoughts are just temporary – they could include sexual abuse, poverty, PTSD, obesity, diabetes, or other struggles that are ongoing and possibly never-ending. Rather than judging those who are suffering, let’s support and listen to them.

One tool I find that has helped me and my friends and relatives who suffer from mental illness is to find at least one song that makes you smile, gives you hope, or inspires you to dance and have that song ready for when you need to distract your mind from the negative thoughts - call it your Alive Note. Sometimes I’ll play just one song on repeat for hours if it makes me feel less alone or gets me moving. Exercise is another proven method for improving your physical and mental health so why not combine music with a walk or workout.

Have a purpose for your playlists. I’ve organized songs to help pump me up or to calm me down, songs that help me laugh or make me cry … whatever I need to feel all the feelings.

Some of my faves include “Ladies First” by Queen Latifah & Monie Love (to feel empowered) and “Just Look Up” by Ariana Grande & Kid Cudi (for a laugh!).

What are your power songs? Share your “Alive Notes” with us!

ALIVE Notes by Leah Connor



Monday, December 13, 2021

PBS NewsHour - How we took care of ourselves in 2021



Malinda Hill, a trained art therapist, used colored pencil to create this blue-and-red figure on her last day of in-person treatment for an eating disorder.

Recommitting to treatment 

In order to take care of myself, I made the difficult decision to re-enter treatment for an eating disorder, depression, anxiety and PTSD. I first entered treatment at the beginning of the pandemic but returned to work too soon and suffered the consequences. Additionally, I’ve been sharing my experience with mental illness on social media in hopes that others will know they are not alone and it’s important to take care of your mental health.

— Malinda Hill of Charlottesville, Virginia


PBS NewsHour / CANVAS / Arts
Updated on Dec 13, 2021 11:11 AM EST — Published on Dec 9, 2021 6:02 PM EST

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Hi Hello

Nearly 3 years ago, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet Johnny Marr before his show. We talked about our daughters, running & my lifelong work in bereavement. On October 1, I lost my job of nearly 20 years. Grateful to wake up to “Hi Hello” from DJ Robert Drake before a difficult day of goodbyes.