Posts Tagged ‘treatment’

letter from bulimia sufferer

February 28, 2008

 

This is an extract from a letter I received this morning, written by a woman suffering from bulimia. I wish to protect her identity so it is anonymous… She describes so clearly how it is to suffer from bulimia – an illness often side-lined or ignored as “taboo” in comparison to anorexia nervosa…

 

 

 

Thankyou for your message Wenna.

I can understand how you must feel about body image. Only with love of ones self, can you really see how beautiful you are.

Anorexia is a hell.

I recently viewed an episode on an intervention talk show that is aired in America, called ‘Dr. Phil’. One of the episodes featured an anorexic girl who had severe problems with binging and purging. You cold obviously tell that her extreme low weight made avoiding binging and purging, extremely difficult. Her body was at a point where the need to eat over-rid her, but she always compensated her binges with purging. Up to 150 times a day.

She is an absolute shock to look at. Extremely emaciated.

I think one of the reasons I developed this binging and purging obsession once I reached a certain low weight is similar to the girl’s reasons. I have tried so hard to spend my day not giving into it.

But I just cant.

The girl also stated that her binges have left her with no food and money and she has regularly shoplifted to fuel her compulsion. I feel very ashamed to admit this, but that is where I am.

I cannot stop this. I promise I have tried so hard. But I cannot escape.

I live alone without any family and friends. My dislike for my body and my huge problem with body dysmorphia makes socialising far too difficult. I live alone in a flat. My day is spent going out food shopping and shoplifting, and binging and purging in the evening. I have never eaten a meal normally for literally years. I cannot eat at all and keep food within me.

 

EDAW… failing families?

February 24, 2008

EDAW’08 Report:

Failing Families?

No one who loves and cares for someone with an eating disorder should feel ashamed; no one should feel so responsible and so alone. Yet time after time, families tell us that is exactly what they feel.

BEAT are launching Eating Disorders Awareness Week with a damning report, Failing Families?

“It has devastated us all. We have lost someone so precious because we were trying to do our best but did not have enough information or knowledge. It is difficult to bear the guilt and to carry on.”

We ask a simple question. Why are so many families being failed by services that should support them?

To read the report in full please go to the national eating disorder association’s web page: www.b-eat.co.uk

Eating Disorders Awareness Week Wales – Free Event

February 17, 2008

Eating Disorders

Awareness Week 2008


GMF & the Cross Party Committee on

Eating Disorders

Invites you to an event to mark

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2008

Venue: The Neuadd, National Assembly for Wales

Wednesday, 27th February 2008, 17:30pm

Please e-mail Rowenna Menzies at:

thegrahammenziesfoundation@hotmail.com

 

or contact Bethan Jenkins AM for more details.

**********************************

Wythnos Ymwybyddiaeth

Anhwylderau Bwyta 2008

 

Mae Bethan Jenkins AC

Yn eich gwahodd i ddigwyddiad i nodi

Wythnos Ymwybyddiaeth Anhwylderau Bwyta

2008

Lleoliad: Y Neuadd, Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Amser: 17:30

Dyddiad: Dydd Mercher, 27ain o Chwefror 2008

Manylion i ddilyn

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………

 

 

 

Meeting With Elin Jones, Minister of Rural Affairs

February 8, 2008

 

This afternoon I met with Elin Jones at her Aberystwyth office.
She was soooo enthusiastic, supportive and helpful! We talked about plans for a residential unit and discussed possible caused for the development of anorexia and bulimia.

Elin is going to look into property options for us…and see if WAG can help, Yay!

Thanks Elin Jones!

Understanding anorexia

February 3, 2008

A thin excuse…

The author of this insightful essay is an unknown woman who struggled with severe anorexia nervosa for many years. It is one of the most accurate and honest descriptions I have read and is really worth reading if you are trying to gain some understanding of this illness. The article was published in the Independent on Tuesday 18th September 2007.

“It was two days before Christmas, and for the third time in my 20-year-long existence I found myself having my blood pressure monitored, my blood taken for biochemical analysis and my mental state being assessed for risk of self-harm and suicide. Once again, I’d been admitted to an eating disorder unit, rescued from my own little world of self-destruction. The day before, I had filled my every hour with food (or rather the avoiding of it), exercise, my ongoing obsession with academic work, and fantasies about a future where I wouldn’t be there to spoil everything.

My parents came to visit, my younger sister excited in anticipation of present-opening. It hurt to sit up, and hurt to lie down, yet I refused to believe that this was due to starvation and muscle wastage. My family brought me a stocking, but I couldn’t understand how they would ever think I deserved nice things. I left the presents unopened for over a month.

I’d suffered from anorexia to varying degrees since I was 11, hiding food and concealing my body under layer upon layer of clothing, and once again it had caught up with me”.

 

As London Fashion Week continues, the controversy surrounding “size zero” models is once again up for discussion. Prompted by the Madrid ban on models with a BMI below 18.5, fashion capitals around the world have undertaken enquiries into the links between eating disorders and the catwalk. Although any measure to protect models at risk of eating disorders is to be applauded, to believe that the fashion industry causes eating disorders is to completely misunderstand this most complex of illnesses.

 

At 11, I was showing early signs of puberty, and the prospect of an adult life ahead terrified me. I was afraid of responsibility, of a time when I would have to face the world without my parents’ hands to hold. But most of all I was scared of men and sex.

Throughout my illness, even when I was motivated, I was convinced that recovery was impossible. But miracles do happen. I was in the grip of anorexia nervosa for more than eight years, but with a lot of help from family, friends and professionals I was able to turn my life around.

Anorexia has often been perceived as a quest for model-like beauty, as a teenage fad or as a diet gone wrong. It has even been described as a lifestyle choice. Seldom is anorexia acknowledged as the life-threatening medical condition that it is. Many anorexics detest their bodies, refusing even to pose for family holiday snaps. I, like many of the eating disorder patients I have met, never sought beauty; instead, I spent years trying to make myself look as ill as possible in order to avoid male attention.

 

As far back as I can remember, my self-esteem was low and I lacked confidence. Children can be cruel, and although they weren’t the “cause” of my eating problems, the bullying I endured throughout my schooldays only added to my feelings of self-hatred.

It is often assumed that the distress in anorexia revolves solely around food and weight. However, the vast majority of eating disorder patients have numerous other difficulties, including low self-esteem or confidence, lack of self-care, and social difficulties. Sufferers are often presumed to pour over the pages of glossy magazines and starve themselves in their aspiration to become glamorous, thinner-than-thin sex goddesses. From my own experiences and from those of numerous other eating disorder patients I have met, I can say unequivocally that nothing could be further from the truth. Beauty has very little to do with eating disorders, and the desire to be thin is merely one of many symptoms. Rarely can a single “cause” be identified.

 

On the ward, Christmas had been and gone, and it was beginning to dawn on me that I would not be well enough to return to university. I was convinced that, once again, I had failed. During those weeks, I hit rock bottom. After years of pretending, I finally opened up to staff at the hospital, and began speaking about some of my troubling innermost thoughts.

I had never felt so ill; the pain was excruciating. My memories of this hellish period are sketchy, but I have since been told that my kidneys were failing and that I was at risk of cardiac arrest. I had many meetings with the doctors, and eventually I agreed to be fed via nasal gastric tube. It was horrible when they passed the tube, though deep down I know it probably saved my life.

It was at this point that something flicked inside my head. It was as though I’d “swapped sides”: I stopped fighting everyone who was trying to help me. As the weeks went on, my stomach ached as it was stretched to accommodate food again. It still took me hours to eat a bowl of soup, and I still had a tube up my nose, but nevertheless, things were getting better.

I wasn’t an easy patient. I cried and screamed and threatened to run away. But in spite of everything, staff at the hospital never gave up on me, and I’ll remain eternally grateful for every hug and kind word.

 

Although my first trip home was challenging, it did open my eyes. At last I began to see how much anorexia was holding me back. I was getting stronger, thinking more logically, and perhaps most importantly my sense of ambition was returning. I started to dream about getting back to university and one day being able to help people with mental illness myself.

I spent seven months as an in-patient and two more as a day patient. I regained a healthy body weight, spent numerous hours discussing my underlying fears and was slowly beginning to develop a sense of self-worth.

My fall into the dark world of anorexia was never influenced by fashion or waif-like celebrities, though I knew others whose recovery from life-threatening illness was indeed hindered by the Western world’s culture of thinness.

I believe that the British Fashion Council’s guidelines will go some way to protect the models themselves (of whom 40 per cent are said to suffer from eating disorders). However, I see problems both with the approach taken in Madrid of banning models with a BMI under 18.5, and the recent health certification scheme proposed in Britain.

Although BMI can offer a crude measure of physical health, it can never quantify psychological distress. Despite popular belief, low weight is not the only danger of eating disorders. There have been times in my life in which my BMI has been in the healthy range and yet my eating behaviours and mental state were far from healthy. I would starve myself for days on end before my body gave in to the pains of hunger and I would binge, after which I would feel so disgusted with myself that I would make myself vomit and/or cut myself with razor blades.

As for doctors’ certificates, it takes considerable time and skill to assess whether an individual has an eating disorder, not least because sufferers often go to great lengths to hide their illness. I’ve been there, told the lies and tricked the scales.

It is a fact that a higher proportion of models suffer from eating disorders than do the general population. The “grooming” and competitive atmosphere undoubtedly perpetuate eating disorders within the modelling profession, but I am personally of the opinion that young girls with existing eating disorders are selected by modelling agencies because of their tiny figures. But, although the fashion industry may be rife with anorexia, the majority of eating disorder patients have not become ill through catwalk influences. And nor are they models.