I think of anorexia as a bit like ivy. In the same way that ivy works itself so well into a wall, that you don’t realise what a good job it’s done until you try to remove it, anorexia creeps into everything. It takes up all your space. Anorexia edges into the existing vulnerabilities that […]
Your definition of recovery can change as you move through the process. Mine definitely has. I said recently to someone that I think my initial definition of ‘recovered’ was quite ‘anorexic’ in that I thought I’d eat differently (more food, more variety, higher calorie foods) until I reached a healthy weight range and then go back […]
So. It’s been a few weeks now since having more intensive support with eating. Overall things have been fairly steady. Ok, but not where I’d like them to be. I still need to restore more weight. I need to embed the changes I made in day service more into my daily life, and not let them […]
Someone asked me recently whether I would ever consider not calling my eating disorder a ‘disorder’, given that I also describe it as a way of surviving in the midst of difficult circumstances. The suggestion was, I think, that if a particular strategy develops as a means of coping, then at one time, it was useful, and needs to be recognised as a sign of resourcefulness – and a resource. What we call ‘anorexia’, even at it’s worst, did to some degree allow me to cope emotionally, I was able to study, to work – even if I wasn’t able to do much else. I was consumed by numbers and emotionally numbed, and at one time, that helped. Perhaps it was even necessary. Eating disorders often develop in a context of difficult feelings. There is always a story behind ‘I’m fat’.
‘I feel fat’. It’s something most (not all) people with an eating disorder diagnosis can relate to, and often it can be a real barrier to making progress in recovery. If you feel ‘fat’, how can you possibly allow yourself more food, more rest, or to consider the possibility that weight gain might actually be a good thing? Continue reading
To begin with, a caveat. I’m obviously not saying that spending most of your formative years in an environment dominated by alcohol (or any other form of out of control behaviour/violence/aggression) is ideal. Not even close. The impact of addiction within families is often under recognised or dismissed and it is something I’d want to protect any child from at all costs. However, I do […]
Being a mental health professional, or social work professional, who also experiences mental health problems. It’s tricky. People outside of services judge, and so do people within services. It raises all kinds of questions about shame.
I think this is something that has partially shifted for me within the last year. I’ve written before about not being able to sit in the waiting room at the eating disorder service because of the fear of bumping into my colleagues. Being in day service has forced me to face this fear, and now, I care a lot less if I do see someone from work in the building. I do see people, and it’s still uncomfortable, but I don’t actively hide anymore. Maybe it’s just exposure over time, or maybe it’s because I’m a little more accepting of my own difficulties, or perhaps it’s the ongoing acceptance of (and openness with) those who do know, love and respect me, that makes the possible judgement of others a bit easier to bear. Continue reading
The post below is from Liz. She describes her experience of a longstanding eating disorder and offers some helpful, compassionate suggestions for navigating the process of untangling oneself.
This post was submitted anonymously. The writer sensitively describes how she understands her difficulties with eating in the context of a wider psychological formulation.
This is the latest post in a series looking at the impact mental health services can have when they are working well. The writer powerfully describes how a range of staff and services have worked together to support her over a number of years.
“So where do I start? Maybe with the fact that I’m one of the lucky ones – and I know it, I really do. So I’d like to speak out; to recognise the properly-professional professionals. I‘m talking about Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, and the STEPS Eating Disorder Service based at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.