I increasingly find myself wanting to make sense of how I was able to (mostly) function as well I did, even when actually very caught up in anorexia. And why both my sister and I, in our own individual ways, seem to have found ways to build on some of our natural strengths, to connect […]

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 […]

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’.

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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.

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This post was submitted anonymously. The writer sensitively describes how she understands her difficulties with eating in the context of a wider psychological formulation.

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This post was contributed anonymously. The writer describes how her GP went beyond the call of duty to support her recovery from an eating disorder during her time at University.

“For weeks, I’d been considering approaching a GP about my ‘eating problems’, but kept delaying it as I didn’t feel ‘sick enough’. I didn’t know any of the GPs at my local practice either. However, I went along one morning and upon enquiring about appointments, was offered a same-day appointment with a GP. I accepted it with mixed feelings. I remember walking into his office later that afternoon and promptly bursting into tears. This GP was very astute and immediately sensed that something wasn’t right. He took me seriously, listened to what I had to say, and was adamant that I was not wasting his time despite my protestations otherwise. He was very ‘switched-on’ to the dangers of anorexia and took great pains to emphasise these. When I came back to see him after two weeks with no improvement, he referred me to secondary services. Continue reading

If you have had a POSITIVE experience of mental health services, I really want to hear from you. It might be that you were seen quickly for assessment and were offered therapy soon after this rather than being stuck on a waiting list, maybe you’ve had input from a service over a number of years and the quality of this has fluctuated – what were the good bits? Maybe you’ve been working with a particular care-coordinator, social worker, OT or psychologist who has helped you to move forwards. Perhaps you’ve received care from a service who go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty and you recognise this and want to highlight it. Perhaps your GP, or a voluntary sector organisation have made a difference to you.

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I’ve been having a bit more support for my eating disorder recently. This means more time away from work, absence which will definitely impact on my colleagues. I feel I owe the people I work closely with an explanation about where I am disappearing to and why. I also won’t see many members of my team for a while, and (if all goes to plan) I’ll look noticeably different when they do next see me. I am still fairly private at work (and in general) about my ‘issues’, but during the last year conversations about food and weight have gradually become part the normal fabric of life with my partner and close friends. Not so long ago I couldn’t say the words ‘eating disorder’ or ‘anorexia’ without becoming overwhelmed, so the talking is definite progress, even if I do feel ashamed and guilty, hate that it is necessary and feel horribly embarrassed that I find certain things so difficult the stage of life I’m at. I don’t know if anyone actually gets how embarrassed I feel every time I try to ask for help, help I don’t think I should need, can’t judge how or when to ask for, and can’t always say what I think I actually might need.

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