For me, the specific words that specify which eating disorder one suffers from, were
not been helpful in my own recovery. I think this has to do with the fact that the words have a labelling stigma attached
to them. I think, by the time I met the diagnostic criteria it was already too late - I had already labelled myself! So, remember,
it is not important what eating disorder someone suffers from, the fact that they suffer is what is important. If a
person does not meet the set diagnostic criteria of an eating disorder, it does not mean that they do not have a problem -
many people may suffer from a combination of eating disorders. For example, they may have traits towards more than one eating
disorder. If food, or any other behaviour, is being used in an unhealthy way, and to help someone cope with life then
that person is deserving of getting the help and/or treatment required.
For the most part, I have found books that
focus in on the eating disorder to be counter-productive. Even in instances where they specified the detrimental effects,
it did not matter to me.
Also, the way various things were said to me, have been harmful. Someone may have meant well
by saying what they said, but there were times that as a consequence it made me feel that I was not worthy of, nor did I deserve
help. Also, people commenting on shapes, sizes, calories etc are anything but helpful (particularly during the earlier stages).
I used to find conversations such as these to be extremely hurtful, especially around people who knew about my struggles
In these instances, it felt like a mockery!
I realised during my recovery that I used other ways to suppress feelings
(non-food related). I realised this in a former group meeting that I used to attend - they used this method to help bring
the feelings to the surface, but I used it in an unproductive way. I never told the facilitator that it was unproductive for
me. That would most definitely have been too scary for me back then. I knew deep down, by not telling her, I was, in essence,
feeding the ed.
I have also realised during my recovery, that I have a tendency to hide behind words - take the focus
away from me (deflection) if you like. I also tend to make light of all situations - make a bit of a joke, or laugh it away
In the past I used to need to take strides in my recovery, for example, there had been times, when there
was talk about food in a way that I found harmful to me, I was able to just walk away. I was at a workshop once, where some
people (who knew that there were sufferers of eating distress there) commented how they needed to lose weight etc, and then
another time when I arrived at my support group, a parent of one of the sufferers, who had attended a nutrition workshop recently,
started commenting on that. I just joked pretending I was going upstairs to grab my usual corner seat. Looking back, I can't
believe I did that. I know that even a few months prior to this,there was no way I could have done that - I would have just
sat there and taken it - despite the harmful effects.
During my recovery, I also had to change therapists, due to
reasons outside of my control. Despite the difficulty, I think it may have been a blessing in disguise. I am finding that
I am more able to say things to my current therapist, than I ever was able to my previous therapist. Even though
I seemed to be able to trust him, more or less straight away, I still had a few reservations for some time, surrounding trusting
him fully. I felt that I could trust him, but when I took the plunge, there was part of me that started panicking - trusting
too soon etc. Also, the fact that he was male, proved to be somewhat of a challenge.
I also challenge my current counsellors beliefs, especially when they don't tie in with
my own. This has helped me make huge strides in my recovery. Even though I respect the values that Marino
have, if I feel they don't sit right with me, it's up to me to challenge that: share my views with my counsellor, to see why
they don't sit with me, and through this, I am learning more and more about who I am. As my counsellor has said,
he likes the fact that I am a non conformer. At the end of the day, I am an individual, and not everything is going
to apply to me (or anyone else for that matter). I believe it was through my fears of disagreeing with my former
therapist, that prevented me from not fully disclosing my beliefs/values, which, in turn, held me back in my recovery.
One word that has been coming to mind for some time is individuation. What
is that exactly? Finding out who I am - as a person, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically etc. It
also means breaking away from old rules, beliefs and values, that I held true to myself eg shame and embarrassment have been
two very strong emotions that have stayed with me throughout my recovery, but it has definitely lessened over time.
I no longer feel ashamed for having developed an eating disorder. Despite being recovered, I still continue to
work on myself, to evolve as a human being. The shame, when it started to lessen for me, became more like an observation,
like watching a ship pass in the night. Shame is an emotion, just like any other. A certain level of shame,
in my view is healthy, it is when the shame becomes toxic that it is unhealthy.
Personally, I believe
that dreams can help in achieving full recovery. One of my longest dreams ever has been to become a therapist myself.
At long last, I am embarking on a training course to become a counsellor. This has been my dream for so many years
now. I am now going into my final year of my studies, which for personal reasons I am spreading over two years. After
much deliberation I have finally set upon which modules I am undertaking. One I was interested in did not go ahead,
due to lack in numbers, but know that if the opportunity comes around again, it is something I can always do down the road.
one point during my recovery, I wished that someone would throw me a rope , so that I could just hang for a while,
as sometimes there were changes happening so fast, that I doubted whether or not I could keep up. It was like being
in a speed boat, but my body wasn't in the boat (more a sense of me holding the wheel, with my arms outstretched, and my body
Dreams can come true, if you really want them. But it's necessary to realise
that not all dreams come true. Some dreams stay with us for longer spells than others. Some are what we are destined
for, others are like little goalposts, to help us along the way.