Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Reality of Recovery

There are so many people still suffering in silence. That’s more astonishing when you consider how many people use the internet every single day and have access to knowledge and support and help, yet it does not always seem like enough.

One of our aims with Don’t Lose Your Grip is to give others who are going through or have been through the struggles that we are facing a platform to speak openly and honestly and most importantly in a judgment free environment. Our weekly #TopicsToDiscuss does just this.

Tonight we back to our routes a bit and reminded our followers that we do these discussions because we have been there… It really is that simple, we have been in similar situations and we want know how much opening up about these issues that are considered taboo has meant for our recovery.

From a personal perspective: I haven’t really been eating in a healthy manner and I can feel it throughout my body. I can feel my energy levels dwindling and my control slowly dissolving. I know that this is not acceptable and that I can’t go back to the beginning of my eating disorder struggle. I can’t go through all of this pain and loneliness again. I can’t start all over again. I can’t give up all of my triumphs in one foul sweep. I simply can’t! For the last week I have been eating only my 3 favourite foods. And only eating half portions… This scares me. I know how hard I have worked to get to this point of not allowing my eating habits to control me; I know how many times I cried and begged for help without anyone being able to read the signs and I don’t want to go through it again; I don’t want to go back to that lonely place where I hate myself.

By now I’ve realized that I am not alone in my struggle and whatever I’m going through, there is probably someone else out there who feels to same. So we asked our followers to share their recovery fears with us. These were some of their fears 

–          Not knowing when you will relapse

–          Fearing the relapse

–          Not knowing if it will ever happen again

–           The fear of losing my strength

–          That doubt in my mind that I never did fully recover and it will happen again

–          The fear that I’ll never actually beat it, that it’ll just be sitting there waiting for me to mess up again

It comes down to realizing that there is still so much about eating disorders that people have not been able to articulate or understand. These are all things that you won’t find on a recovery pamphlet. People don’t talk about the reality of recovery openly enough. This sets us up for a dangerous fall because we have no idea what to expect and that builds so much anxiety and fear. We need to talk about these issues more openly! We really need to get to a stage where people do not judge you for the label of your disorder.

And then, as soon as you open up about your disorder, everyone wants to ‘fix’ you. And as they through their ignorant comments about, they don’t realize that they are actually hurting you a lot more. This is why we asked our followers what the worst advice was that they have received regarding their eating disorders. This is what they shared

–          “You’re doing it for attention; you’re being so selfish”

–          “Just get over it”

–          “Just eat one”

–          “you need to get some chips inside you”

–          “You’ve got to have SOMETHING!”

–          “When you’re at work, leave your issues outside”

–          “Go on a diet”

–          “your being pathetic now, grow up”

–          “you are too fat to have had an ED”

There were a few extra implying that you can just switch your disorder on or off whenever you feel like it. Plus a few where they were told that it was their choice to suffer from an eating disorder. These ignorant comments saddens me… if you do not understand what someone is going through, don’t patronise them by spewing out the first phrase that comes to mind. If you really want to help, give them a hug and tell them the truth: tell them that you don’t understand and that you just don’t get it. At least that way we have the opportunity to give you more information and let you in on the other side of ED; the side that no one really talks about.

One of our followers commented that some think we do it for attention. So when people die from EDs, is that for attention seeking too? It really hit home how much these simple little phrases can affect our choices and lives. Simply by allowing an ignorant and negative comment in, we’re placing ourselves at risk. Going on a diet to reduce the amount of food intake or your weight can result in an over correction and lead to anorexia or bulimia and all the way back to over eating again. Finding a balance is hard under any circumstances but when you have this shadow of an ED constantly following you around; it makes the subject a lot more sensitive. When someone mentions food, your mind automatically races to figure out what they are implying about you; how this mention of food will affect you and what everyone else expects you to do about it or how they expect you to react to it… That is a lot of thought that goes into just one bite. There is a lot more to an eating disorder than just eating.

The emotions that are involved are far more powerful than the physical aspects. The scars that we hind behind our ED are the ones that last the longest and you can be on the healthiest eating plan in the world but if you do not take care of the emotions behind it, you cannot succeed. We asked our followers which things have resulted in their relapses. These were just a few

–          SCALES!!!! They always renew the obsession with getting on multiple times a day

–          Magazines like Vanity Fair which forces the idea that being super, dangerously skinny is beauty

–          Too many bills to pay and pressure of everyday life

–          Normalisation of junk food always tells me I’ll be able to eat it this time… because other people can

Realising that the things that most people do not give a second thought to affects you this much is tough… Trying to remove them from your life or finding ways around the pressure is just as tough and when you have to do all of this while being judged, it a hundred times worst. That lead us to ask what has helped our followers find the strength to keep fighting and we got two very clear answers

–          Support from friends or family

–          Music

Having someone who can remind you of all of your strength and beauty when you cannot see it, is extremely powerful. Having someone to go to when nothing makes sense is very useful and knowing that you can build up a relationship of trust where they see you for more than just your diagnosis, is truly amazing. Support is a big part of recovery.

We have been big advocates of the power of music from the get go. We have always believed that music is just one more way to express how you feel and remind you that someone else has also been there and experienced the same trials and emotions and they made it… If they can do it, so can you. Music gives hope when words fail. Also the reason we’re dedicating our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition to #20DaysOfRae by Rae Earl.

So what did this 2hour conversation between friends in a safe environment mean? Well, maybe nothing to you… But for me, it was great to talk about the things that society tells me to keep secret and it is nice to be reminded that you are not alone every once in a while. It validates the feelings I have by showing me that I am not the odd one out. It reminds me that I have a lot of support.

Ok, so it’s not exactly a world changing event but it’s a start… It’s a place for people to express what’s on their mind without being afraid of the judgement and everyone is welcome.

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Worth the fight

I don’t do discussions about ED just because I care; I do it because I’ve been there. Every bite is a mixture between a victory lap and the sinking feeling of defeat. I don’t talk about mental health just because a few of my friends have tried to commit suicide, I do it because as soon as I open my eyes I have to start fighting a daily battle just to make myself get out of bed… And then I look at the person next to me and it seems to come so naturally to them. I don’t speak openly about self-harm just because I’m worried that my little cousins or even my kids one day will be stuck in this same pattern of pain. I do it for them and everyone out there feeling as alone as I have felt most of my life… to a large degree I do it for me.

There are a million things I feel I should say to all of you bothering to read this little piece of me but basically I just want you to know that you are not alone and slowly but surely we are all learning to understand not just the disorders and illnesses that mess with us on a regular basis but we are also helping others understand that there is more to us than a frustrating diagnosis. You are amazing and if today is not going that well. Just remember one little good thing that has made you smile in your life so far. You just need one little reason to smile, even just for a moment… It does get better and it is worth the fight.

You are not alone

Be the change

It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated a post to Don’t Lose Your Grip (the charity my friend Chrisselle started) so I thought I’d give you guys an update.

Firstly, our website is currently experiencing some domain issues and therefor most people can’t access it but we’re working on it and will let you know when http://dontloseyourgrip/chrisselle.com is back in action.

But more importantly, we’re all doing really well and happy with the direction that Don’t Lose Your Grip is taking. But before I talk about the future dreams we have for DLYG, let me fill those of you in who haven’t heard of Don’t Lose Your Grip yet.

Basically a year and a half ago one of our close friends Lacey Crawford took her own life. Now I can sit here and list all of the reasons that lead to that moment that she felt so hopeless that she committed suicide but that’s not going to bring her back. So instead my dear friend Chrisselle Mowatt started this organization where we are trying to change the stigmas that promotes judgment. Every Monday at 8pm UK time we are using Twitter as a medium to discuss everything about self injury (aka cutting aka selfharm). On Tuesdays at 8pm we shift the topic to Eating Disorders including EDNOS and every Wednesday at 8pm it’s Mental Illness. Because eating disorders can be considered as a form of self injury and has mental health implications; because self injury is considered by some as a symptom of mental illness and because mental illness can include insomnia or depression which generally leads to a loss in apetite… well you get the point, it’s all very closely linked and some have even grouped it under mental wellbeing or mental health and for this reason we also have a combined #TopicsToDiscuss on twitter every Sunday starting at 12:00.

We ask the questions everyone else tip toes around; our amazing followers share their own real experiences and fears and the hope they have built up during their recovery. Basically we’re an over tweeting gigantic support group. And everyone is welcome as long as they agree not to judge… Trust me, we’re really good at standing together so play nice.

It can get pretty serious sometimes and that’s one of the reasons we also open up our direct message door to all of our followers. Sometimes it’s too hard to talk to the whole world and you just need 1 person to listen. There are so many people out there scared to get help; being turned away because they don’t fit the perfect criteria yet… no one sees that asking for help is not the first thought on our minds, it’s generally somewhere in the middle, somewhere after we have tried to convince ourselves that it’s not happening to us; that we spend years trying to deny the fact that we are in trouble before we build up the courage to ask for help… To be turned down at that point can be devastating! But life has evolved and we have this amazing new tool called ‘social networking’ and it’s about time we step up and use it for more than gossip or discussion about Justin Bieber’s hair…

You can’t be serious all the time though, I mean the world is depressing enough we need to find a way to focus on the positive. That is one of the reasons we do an #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition every Sunday – Thursday where our followers nominate the songs that inspire them during the dark moments and the 5 finalists that they voted for goes onto a poll on our FaceBook page. Plus, music can help us express what we are feeling before we even know what exactly it is we are feeling. Music can bring a variety of people together like no other medium. Whatever you are going through: someone else has also been there and they probably wrote a song about it.

Seeing so many people connect to a song is the best way for us to prove that everyone out there suffering in silence are not alone. You are not alone! We have been there and it does get better…

We hope that we can use music one day to help raise money for charities dedicated to helping EVERYONE. We hope that one day we won’t need to schedule a conversation to allow people to discuss these very important issues with those around them. We hope that those who have received help will pass it on and support others who also need it. Basically, we still have faith in humanity and are tired of waiting for the world to change. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you have ever suffered from an Eating Disorder or even so much as considered self harm or if a simple thing like getting out of bed in the morning feels like the hardest thing in the entire world to accomplish then you are very welcome to join our #DLYGfamily. If you’ve never personally experienced it but you’ve seen the signs in those you love, join our cause and show everyone suffering that you care and that you are aware. If all of this just seems too foreign or out of your comfort zone, then please join us and allow us to help you understand that these things do not define us, they are just a little part of us.

Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Those of you who are crazy enough to read my blog on a regular basis will know that I moved to Zimbabwe this year because I’ve loved the amazing culture of hope since I was 12 years old. You’ll also be aware of Don’t Lose Your Grip and our friend Lacey Crawford.

For those of you who might have missed it: Don’t Lose Your Grip is a charity concert and fashion show aimed at raising money [along with much needed awareness] for eating disorders, self injury (aka cutting aka self harm) and mental health issues such as depression. We’re relying on Musicians to volunteer their music for a good cause and to help us show that charity really doesn’t have to be boring. Our models are ALL normal people who want to help us promote positive body image or simply those who are recovering from / trying to live with an eating disorder. DLYG is aimed at ending the judgement and rebuilding self confidence.

We live in a tough world where you are criticized for believing in yourself and told you are a failure because your hair is the wrong colour or your figure doesn’t resemble Barbie or whatever the latest super model’s name is. In Milan this year, they were using MEN to model WOMEN’s clothes!!! So now we’re supposed to look like men in order to look attractive?! Come on!! This mess the media and our society has created over the ‘perfect image’ is not just leading to total confusion and terribly dangerous eating habits, it is also causing a lot of self hate and building on existing depression.

Cutting, eating disorders and suicide, very different symptoms of the same problem are gaining on us. The problems being alienation and depression; the symptoms: cutting and suicide. Personally I don’t know one single person who does not at least know of 2 such victims. This is a global problem and we are ALL affected! Chrisselle started DLYG because she’s tired of seeing her friends suffer in silence and feel so helpless that they take their own life. And so am I!!!

That is how DLYG Zimbabwe was born. This global problem of ours needs our attention right now! I know that Zimbabwe has a lot of other issues that some may say take precedence and to some extend I agree but that doesn’t mean we can ignore mental health and wellbeing. If we are dumb enough to ignore these problems right now, it will lead to devastating affects we, as a country, have no means to defend against.

Living with disrupted power supply; limited communication with the world outside Zimbabwe unless you use technology from down South; driving down roads where there are more potholes than actual tar left; looking at fields that use to be known as Africa’s breadbasket only to see wild flowers and dirt there instead of maize; walking into any shop in the country and seeing the face of The Man who has forgotten what the word ‘president’ means and being the last of your family still remaining in a country most of the world has written off can be very depressing!! You cannot honestly tell me that you are not saddened by what you see. But the amazing thing about Zimbabwe is its people! The hope that exists in their hearts is second to none! Zimbabwe is a rich country not by monetary standards but by heart!

So I urge all of you, to stand with me and acknowledge that you see the person standing next to you; that you see their suffering [depression]; that you see their cries for help [cutting, eating disorders] and that you help me raise awareness so we can help each other.

Keep your faith in humanity strong,

AM