Archive for the ‘anorexia’ Category

Poem by Ali Valenzuela

March 4, 2008
Ali wrote this poem about her experience of recovering from an eating disorder and kindly sent it to me for publication on this site. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Ali’s courage, determination and generosity. In her struggle to gain treatment for anorexia and despite being desperately ill, she has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of eating disorders in Wales.

I was lost and alone, didn’t know who to be,
and felt like an outcast, unaccepted for me.
When I needed a friend; a voice to console,
I heard a small whisper: “You’re not on your own.
I’ve seen you around and you’re needing a friend,
and i promise to be there right until the end.”
I jumped at the offer of close company,
but little did I realise quite how close it’d be.
I felt proud to decline food-it showed me my strength
To say bno to the things I would want at great length.
I felt so in control and my confidence soared,
what with all of the exercise, I was never bored.
People said “what willpower it takes to do this!”
but little did they know it came with a twist
I was hungry and needed to eat a good meal
But the voice would get louder and started to squeal:
“what the HELL are you doing, you fat, dirty BITCH?!
We’ve got you SO far, now you shovel down THIS?!
It doesn’t make sense to delay your progress!”
But by this point, I only began to obsess
about every morsel that passed my lips
Added shame and disgust to the top of my list.
Temptation’s no match for this beast that’s insidethat slowly consumed me- I had nowhere to hide.
It was eating me up, and rotting my soul-
If it were to continue, it’d swallow me whole.
My clothes wouldn’t fit and my body was frail,
but no matter my state I couldn’t possibly fail
The anorexic voice that drowned out the lot
of my terrified family, begging me to stop.
Who crept into my room in the dead of the night
To see if their daughter was still breathing alright.
People gasped at my bones that protruded my skin,
pointing with horror at ‘the girl that’s so thin!’
I was ashamed and afraid, so much internal pain,
I thought i would never become me again
It was the worst nightmare i could possibly know
as even when I woke up, it was there in full flow.
At a rock bottom where I could have easily died
Finally, hospital help had arrived!
It took all away control of anorexia’s ways
and slowly but surely I started to change
My passion for life started to get on track
I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back!
With recovery started, I learnt to control
The anorexic voice, and listen to my own.
But I still live in terror of the voice I followed,
Dragging me back to it’s world of sorrow
So I’m sharing my story of horror and pain
to prevent this from happening to anyone again
I can never repay those who supported me through
the hardest time of my life- all i say is Thankyou.

xxx
Ali Valenzuela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

February 29, 2008

Eating disorders and pregnancy

Having an eating disorder can have serious consequences on one’s health. When the body is not getting significant nutrition, it may respond by stunting bone growth and allowing it’s muscles to waste away. One of the most important muscles in the body is the heart, and unhealthy weight loss can result in an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and the very real possibility of cardiac arrest. While these problems affect one’s health to a great degree, there can be an even greater strain placed on the body when one is pregnant and has an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. In this article, we’ll discuss the problem and offer some help when it comes to dealing with it.

The damage that is done to the human body through an eating disorder can truly have a negative effect on a woman’s endocrine system. This system is crucial when it comes to proper pregnancy, as it regulates the hormones that are responsible for proper development. For that reason, some women who have had eating disorders that they’ve successfully treated in the past may still be threatened with the aspect of having a risky pregnancy. Sadly, roughly twenty percent of all female visits to fertility clinics are made by women who have had an eating disorder in the past.

If you currently have an eating disorder and you’ve become pregnant, it’s important to do all that you can to save yourself from the disorder before the baby’s health is threatened. You should immediately seek the help of a physician or a counsellor in order to bring your body back to where it needs to be. Unfortunately, women who have eating disorders face a much higher risk of miscarriage. There is also a greater chance of having the baby prematurely, which can result in a host of developmental problems. Also, those with eating disorders need to consider how pregnancy works. Babies sap much of the nutrition that their mothers eat, so if your own health is not stable, your child’s life can be threatened as well as your own. Women with eating disorders often have low levels of calcium, and when the foetus begins to demand calcium, osteoporosis may occur, causing your bones and teeth to become weak and brittle.

Another thing to consider is the mental state that you are in. If you are busy being concerned about your self-image due to an eating disorder, you may be unable to give your growing child the attention that it needs. Before making any decision about becoming pregnant, be sure to consider all of the facts when it comes to the child’s development. Do your best to get yourself back to a healthy way of living before considering bringing a child into the mix; the resulting stressors can heavily outweigh your desires for having a child. Make a responsible decision before you do anything rash, and be sure that you’ll be able to provide a loving and peaceful setting for a child should you decide to have one.

Article by Mike Serov

Eating Disorders Awareness Week… utterly divine…

February 24, 2008

 

In honour of EDAW check out this amazing jewellery…

 

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9496503

 

It was designed by Carrie Arnold to commemorate recovery from anorexia nervosa and all profits are donated to BEAT (eating disorders association). Also, it is seriously lurvley…

 

Recovering from Anorexia – real life experience

February 18, 2008

 

 

 

Below is an extract from the diary of a recovering anorexic…

“Today I am in battle, and I appear to be losing. The fight against my enemy seems to be a losing one, and I am backing away in retreat. All my bravery is gone, and my tears tell of my shame. what is wrong me? I scream inside but no one responds. Its that voice that ridicules me when I feel my stomach jiggle as I walk. The same voice that reminds me that I can no longer see the bottom of my rib cage. It is still the same voice that begs me to change who I am, but savors the parts I have refused to change. So who is crying these tears? which part of me? the voice or me? and which part is me? Which one is real?

I cant do this. I don’t even know how to love who I am. Where is the line between loving who you are and having the drive to be healthy. When I tell people I struggle with an eating disorder, they smile in disbelief. “Look at her,” I can almost hear them think, “She does not have the body of someone who is anorexic.” But they can’t hear the voice I still carry around. The one that tells me my pants are too tight, and that jacket doesn’t fit the way it used to.

And I have good days and bad ones. One day I actually thought I might wear a bikini this year. Something I have never done. And today I believe I never will.

What started this melt down of emotions, and the retreat of a once winning battle. I did laundry today, and the pants that were always a little loose, I struggled to button. “That’s normal,” some would say. But my voice tells me, even though I think I was winning, that I am losing.

My arms are flabby now. Your stomach has rolls. The cellulite on your legs goes to your knees. Did you know that your hips are wider than your shoulders. Your cheeks are the focus of your face, and when you turn around ppl can see the rolls on your back. Your ugly. Your fat. You have no control.

My God. My Jesus. You died for this. You say I am worth it, and the battle is already won, but how, Lord, do I claim my victory. Would it be better if you made me lose about ten pounds. Or if the cellulite disappeared.

I will learn to love this. No matter how much I weigh. I will continue to eat healthy, and exercise, and I will learn to love this. This body. This stomach. These hips.

I will not retreat, this battle already has a victor. I cannot retreat. But I still cry”.

By “Struggling Victor” Feb ’08

Woman over 25 with eating disorders

February 14, 2008

Information about eating disorders in women over 25

Eating disorders are not only for young teenaged girls. The stereotype has been proven wrong year after year as children, adults, seniors and men are diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating syndrome.

In general, men develop eating disorders later than woman, and the onset of bulimia is later than anorexia. We are also facing the relatively new problem of long-term anorexia and bulimia. Individuals who were diagnosed in their teens but received no successful treatment, and who are now in their thirties or fourties.

The following information is taken from:

http://eatingdisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/eating_disorders_in_adult_women

The article is called “What happens after Recovery?” by Lori Henry.

“One of the recent phenomenon is the discovery that adult women are still struggling with these issues. Those who had suffered in their teen years were still effected, but could not be diagnosed with an eating disorder because they fell under the radar for specific symptoms.

There is also a huge jump in women who develop eating disorders later in life, usually due to the many changes and stressors that present themselves as their children grow up, they go through deaths, possible divorces, pregnancy, and age changes their perspectives and bodies.

Not many studies have been done, though, on adult women who suffer from full blown eating disorders and especially those who are suffering but are not quite diagnosable.

In Trisha Gura’s new book, Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women, she diligently explores this hidden epidemic that is ruining millions of people’s lives. Chock full of scientific research, personal stories and the author’s own experience, the read is both a fascinating and shattering one.

The book doesn’t stop there, though. Trisha also provides answers to difficult questions about eating disorders in adult women’s lives, as well as inspiration for those dealing with these issues.

What happens when girls with eating disorders grow up into adults? We hear from them in direct stories about their struggles and how aging has effected their latent eating disorders.

Women she interviews range in age and experience, but all share the growing battle with disordered eating. One woman is 92 years old and developed anorexia in her senior years because “there was just too much she wanted to do in her later years” (Lying in Weight, Harper Collins, 2007).

Trisha Gura is not only someone who empathises with the subject matter, she is a scientist herself and has spent 15 years as a medical journalist. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology and has written extensively in such publications as Science, Nature, Scientific American, the Chigaco Tribune, the Boston Globe, Child, the Yoga Journal and Health, to name a few.

Above all, she offers hope to those suffering or who know someone who is suffering. Mixed in with her scientific research are the women’s stories themselves who have shared their own experience in order to shed light on their age group.

Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women is available from Amazin and is a great read for laypeople and professionals alike”.

addiction?

February 13, 2008

 

 

 

 

Are eating disorders an

 

 

 

 

 

 

addiction?

 

 

 

Can compulsive eating be compared to an addiction like compulsive gambling?

 

Is the chemical hit produced by periods of starvation similar to that of heroin?

 

Are eating disorders an addiction?

 

 

…This is surely one of the most controversial and emotionally laden subjects in the mental health field. In this article I will explore ways in which an eating disorder is (and isn’t) like an addiction…

 

 

 

 

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are addictions. This is because eating does not create the biological dependencies which are implicit in addiction to drugs such as nicotine or crack cocaine.

For example, chemical changes occur within the body of an alcoholic so that they physically need alcohol to function in a “normal” way.

 

 

When I suffered from anorexia I was emotionally and mentally dependent on starving. There were a million reasons why I felt “unable” to eat, and physically I was unable to digest very much food because my stomach had shrunk. But I did not physically need to starve so that I could function. My need not to eat was primarily mental rather than physical.

 

 

 

 

“Addictive personality”…?

 

Up to date research suggests that only 5% of drug or alcohol users become chemically addicted and that particular personality “types” are most likely to become dependent, regardless of the chemicals used.

 

 

Certain childhood behaviours may predict adult addictive tendencies… there are “early warning” signs. You only have to sit in an AA or NA meeting to hear people in recovery describe how they knew they were an “addict” long before they ever picked up their first drink or experimented with their first drug.

 

 

Common features include childhood feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and isolation. Children who are very shy or very loud. Unhappy children who use ritualistic behaviours to soothe their internal pain. Repetitive tapping or stepping, talking to one’s self, making up secret “rules” to manage anger or anxiety.

 

 

When I was a child I said individual prayers on behalf of everybody, everybody I knew, every night. I even said a prayer from the people I didn’t know. I said one from the people I would meet one day and another from those I would never meet. I said extra prayers in case I forgot anybody… it took hours. I wasn’t a religious child, but I would wake up guilty and terrified if I forgot anybody.

 

I never stepped on cracks, I only sat on the floor at home, I touched things the same number of times with my right hand and then my left. I walked the long way to school to avoid passing the Golden Labrador pup. All the children loved to pet him ~ but I couldn’t bare to leave him. I couldn’t go until I saw another kid in the distance and knew he wouldn’t be alone.

 

I failed miserably to communicate with children my own age and preferred to play by myself. I wasn’t bullied, but I had no friends. I could go on and on… mostly small, quiet things which nobody ever noticed; but my childhood was a series of carefully balanced rituals planned to avoid or justify feelings of guilt. Such disassociative actions could be perceived as the early emergence of addictive behaviour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addictions and Eating Disorders

 

 

 

Shared Characteristics

 

 

Eating disorders certainly share many characteristics, symptoms and behaviour trends with addictions. It is common to hear people describe themselves as being “addicted” to chocolate or salty foods. They also feel deprived when they can not eat these foods and crave them.

 

 

People with eating disorders (for example anorexia) may achieve both an emotional and physiological “high” when starving. A bulimic might experience stress release of tension relief when purging. Compulsive eating can provide both a rush of energy with sugar, than drowsiness when satiated. At the beginning, there is always a “reward”.

 

 

 

Some shared

 

 

 

characteristics:

 

 

Secrecy

 

 

Deception and lies (e.g. pretending to have eaten)

 

 

Ritual (Rules and specific patterns of eating, a particular routine for vomiting, etc)

 

 

Pre-occupation (constantly thinking about food)

 

Use of a behaviour or drug to “cope”

 

 

Prioritising compulsive behaviour or addiction above all else

 

 

(e.g. above relationships, finance, physical and emotional health) etc

 

 

Illegal behaviour to support behabiour (such as shoplifting)

 

 

Social withdrawal and depression

 

 

Gradual reduction in the “positive” effects of their disorder or addiction and an increase in drug or behaviour use to compensate.

 

 

Ultimately, eating disorders can become the centre of a person’s life in the same way as any chemical addiction and sufferers are likely to feel emotionally unable to cease damaging behaviours.

 

 

The relationship between eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

disorders and chemical addiction

 

 

 

 

 

Statistically, there is no hard evidence to suggest that people with eating disorders are more likely to have alcoholics or chemical addicts as close family members. I personally find this surprising to the point of disbelief.

 

 

The majority of sufferers I know have some family experience of addiction.

There is evidence to suggest that somebody with a close family member who has an eating disorder is four or five times more likely to develop one themselves. But this could be learned behaviour. We already know that amongst young girls who are not genetically related, a single sufferer can significantly increase the risk of eating disorders in her peers.

 

 

Finally, there is much written about the prevalence of cross addiction or co-morbidity. It is indisputable that a huge amount of people with eating disorders also suffer from a chemical addication or self-injury (self-harm). There is so much to say on this subject… I guess that’s another blog.

 

 

Addiction or not – an addiction model can be a helpful form of treatment. OA (which adopts the AA 12-step recovery model) provides free self-help groups world wide. And whilst the abstinence model may be negated (a person with an eating disorder must learn to manage eating healthily if they wish to recover) the emphasis on peer identification, openness, acceptance and personal responsibility can be empowering and supportive.

 

 

Interested in this subject? You may find the short film below helpful………

 

 

 

Short film – anorexia nervosa

February 10, 2008

Religion and Starvation

February 4, 2008

 

Saints and slimmers

 

 

The link between women’s sinfulness and food is made at the very start of the Bible, when Eve’s desire for the apple brings about the destruction of paradise. It reached a high point with medieval Christianity, when women literally fasted themselves to death in what subsequent scholars have labelled “holy anorexia“.

The best-known case is that of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380, pictured). A mystic who saw visions of God, she would only eat bread and raw herbs and drink water – she starved to death at 33, the age when Jesus was crucified.

 

She is sometimes called the first anorexic, but Saint Margaret of Cortona (1247-1297) has an earlier claim. She worked ceaselessly among the needy of her home city and wrote: “I want to die of starvation to satiate the poor.”

Interested in this subject?

Suggested further reading:

Please check the religion and starvation link in this blog.

“Religious Fasting Woman, Holy anorexia”

http://books.google.com/books?id=eX3xL91hBPIC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=saint+catherine+of+siena+starvation&source=web&ots=Br6F0xHloH&sig=liY0bLs8xHVJ2AgLjOAzqIxqInE#PPA5,M1


The Blood and the Body of Christ:

http://www.feminista.com/archives/v2n2/eaton.html


holy anorexia

February 4, 2008

 

 

Sister Marie Thérèse:

‘Anorexia has been a

friend’

She devoted her life to God, but Sister Marie Thérèse couldn’t let go of her lifelong eating disorder – until she faced up to a childhood scarred by abuse

Interview by Peter Stanford
Sunday, 27 January 2008

“Anorexia has been a part of my life for more than 50 of my 61 years. It has been a friend really. Having it is like being with somebody who takes away your feelings. Anything you can’t cope with, you put into anorexia. Once you confront it, as I have in recent years, you are left alone.

I grew up in Luton, one of four children. My parents, who married in 1939, were not well matched. Nowadays their marriage would have ended quickly but they were good Irish Catholics and marriage was for better or worse. When I was small my maternal grandfather came to live with us. Mother would never see him as anything other than a perfect gentleman. When my two sisters were born, I was handed over more and more into his care. I came to be called “grandad’s little girl”. As far back as I can remember, he would take my upstairs, undress me and sexually abuse me. He died when I was nine.

I could always talk to God when I couldn’t talk to anyone else. He was the only person who knew everything and still loved me.

I didn’t think of being a nun until I went to a Catholic school at the age of 10 and met some sisters. I knew I wanted to be an enclosed nun, giving myself totally in prayer, living in a convent, as I do now, at a Carmelite monastery in London. I remember talking about such a life with my mother and she said, “They wouldn’t have you.” I thought, “Of course they won’t have me because I’ve been abused. I’m not good enough.”

So I decided to be a nun in an active order, giving my life to God as a nurse or a teacher. I joined one order at 17 but left at 19. By that time I was very anorexic. I can’t remember a time as a child when I ate normally, but my mother said I did until I was nine. I didn’t eat as I felt like the biggest sinner in the world. I wanted to die more than anything else; I thought I’d go to God and he understood.

I was very ill by the time I left the first order. I ended up in a mental hospital. I remember a doctor asking me what I wanted to do and I said, “I would have liked to have been a nun but I’ve taken two overdoses now, so that’s impossible. Nuns don’t do that sort of thing.” And he said, “I don’t see why not.”

So I discharged myself and tried again, in my mid-twenties. I entered another active order and spent four years with them, but I couldn’t make final vows. It wasn’t where God wanted me to be. So I thought I’d come to Carmel for a week and show God it just was not possible. But God showed me it was possible, so I became a Carmelite at 30. It wasn’t the end of anorexia, though.

After I’d discharged myself, I’d decided to live with whatever was wrong with me. I still didn’t think of it as anorexia. Everything I read about anorexia seemed to say to me that people who had it wanted to have a figure or be thin. And I didn’t want either.

Entering a contemplative order where fasting is part of the way of life was, with hindsight, a bad idea. There was an expectation in Carmel that you will eat everything put in front of you. You had no choice. One thing about anorexia is that you have to be in control of something – and that is your food. I couldn’t do that in Carmel.

I coped – not very well – by vomiting and using laxatives. There were a lot of questions and a lot of trouble about why I wasn’t eating everything given to me. They tried to be kind but food was a daily nightmare. I cried a lot of the time, but I don’t think those around me really knew what was wrong. It made me feel I wasn’t a proper Carmelite. In an enclosed monastery you are left totally with yourself. You have long hours of silence. Any psychological problem is magnified. Prayer gives you so much self-knowledge and there is no escape.

It was five years ago, when I finally went to an anorexia clinic, that I finally made the connection between the abuse and my anorexia. I met some other girls who had been abused and lived with the fear of normal body weight. In the clinic, they insisted on calling me Sheila – my baptismal name – rather than Marie Thérèse, which is my religious name. I didn’t want to be Sheila because I hated her, but I had to. It’s only now that I am beginning to realise that Sheila is living her vocation and has become Sister Marie Thérèse. They are the same person.

I struggled to admit to myself that I had anything to forgive my grandfather for. I didn’t want to go back to those memories. Then my sister brought me some photographs of myself as a young girl, and I got angry with my grandad for what he had done to that little girl. It took me time to work through that, but the love I’d had for him is still there somewhere. I think he must have been very sick.

Now, I can eat things that are put before me, but anorexia has damaged me so much physically that I have to be careful what I eat. The biggest change is that I don’t think about anorexia any more. I have something to eat and that’s it. I get on with other things. I now look back on my life and see so much value in it. It has made me who I am and it has formed my relationship with God, which has been such a precious part of my journey to recovery”.

Interested in this subject?

Suggested further reading:

‘The Silent Struggle’ by Sister Marie Thérèse of the Cross (Redemptorist Publications, £12.95).

Please check the “eating disorders and religion” link as this blog is up-dated daily.

Anorexia, illness and addiction (short audio/film)

February 4, 2008

A short video aimed ar people who suffer from anorexia. Inspirational and pro-recovery. Copy and paste the link below: http://www.osyakuza.com/2008/02/04/anorexia-illness-addiction-and-choice/