Location: Tasmania, Australia
Ethnicity: Indigenous Australian/Southern European
I am an electrician TA, mother of a 6 year old boy and I was studying a combined Arts/Law degree before I got too sick. I am interested in health and nutrition as well as land management and the natural environment. I love reading, drawing, animals and being outdoors but being comfy by the fire with a sneaky glass of wine is awesome too.
How has Beating Eating Disorders helped you?
Where I am located there isn’t a lot of services accessible to people suffering from eating disorders whether it be in an IP environment or external support so I initially turned to the internet to find some solidarity and that’s exactly what I’ve found through Beating Eating Disorders. Not only do I feel like there is a positive community who understands me and supports me but they also strive to educate and raise awareness of these insidious and cruel diseases which is so important not only for sufferers but for those around us. To wake up and scroll through my news feed and be met with posts that tell me it’s okay if I’m struggling today, I am not less of a person and that someone, somewhere, understands and reassures me that it’s okay, it is okay- I am trying, and that is amazing. Beating Eating Disorders has helped validate my own battles right from the demons in my head to the struggles to accept a new squishy bit on my belly or legs and have also inspired hope through the honest accounts of healing I’ve read and have made me begin to truly believe that recovery is possible. That people, multidimensional people, just like me, have been in darkest corners yet are actively chasing the light- and many have caught it. To educate has been equally as phenomenal. It’s been fascinating to learn about different elements pertaining to eating disorders such as the science behind them, social politics surrounding people afflicted with the disease in underrepresented communities and demographics, helpful ways of approaching an uncomfortable situation and highly relevant discussions around societal influence on unhealthy body image. It is refreshing to see such a vibrant and diverse community intent on empowerment and all encompassing support and acceptance without fear or judgement while educating and arming its followers with knowledge.
Where are you in your recovery journey?
I have fought primarily anorexia nervosa for approximately 12 years with periods of having my diagnosis shifted to EDNOS or OSFED and bulimia nervosa in between. I currently am teetering in back-sliding/relapse territory after having completed a 3 month IP non-ED targeted hospital stay (we don’t have the resources) at the beginning of the year and I am clutching at straws a bit but am actively trying to stay engaged with positive communities such as Beating Eating Disorders and therapy occurring in an OP setting. Right now it’s just a matter of trying to stay one step ahead of my eating disorder but not being too hard on myself for bad days either.
What are your future recovery orientated goals?
Ohhhh boy. I have a list of food I’d love to be able to eat and actually enjoy and a list of restaurants I want to visit with my partner without tracking down the menu online first so I know what I’m in for. I want to be able to enjoy food and the experience of consuming it with friends and family. I want my friends and family to be able to enjoy food around me without concern. I want my son to offer me salty, greasy chips and battered fish I’ve bought for him after an epic bike ride and to be able to say “yes please!” and mean it and take a bite or ten and think nothing more of it. I want eating to be natural. I want to love being fit and strong and kick ass.
What is the most helpful thing someone has said to you? What has been the most harmful?
Most helpful… I think the most helpful was probably when a very close friend of mine who knows very little about how to talk to someone with an eating disorder was standing with me in my kitchen in an overtly covert supervisory manner while I picked my way through a cut up apple after becoming light headed. He caught me out hiding a few bits and then looked at me, put his hands on either side of my arms, kissed my forehead and said “I have to do *such & such*, what you do with the apple is up to you, I love you”. He doesn’t know it but it was a solid reminder that I still had a choice. I might not choose the way my mind decides to perceive food, but I can still choose how I react to it (relatively speaking). I still ended up throwing away the apple but that moment was quite profound and has stuck with me.
Most harmful… There’s been a few but largely I’ve learnt not to take people personally, that a lot of what they say comes from a place of misinformation even if they have good intentions. Probably the most recent one was my mother actually. She asked how I was doing and I decided to be honest and confessed I wasn’t doing very well and that I felt i might be relapsing. I was met with “don’t be ridiculous you look fine, don’t go doing that to your son again.” I don’t hold her to account for that. She comes from a different generation and a different culture but it was still hurtful. It made me feel as though I would have to be X kg again before I had the right to be taken seriously.
Share some of your recovery insight.
Recovery insight… I keep a list of all the things I will be able to do when I’m healthy, all the things I love being able to do when I’m healthy. All the things I hate about anorexia from being so freaking constipated all the time to lying to my friends about not being able to meet them because, well, food. Every reason in my life I can think of to keep fighting. To change my language in the manner I talk to myself in. I try to talk to myself and treat myself like I’d treat someone I cherish even if I am still working on believing it, and use “I choose to/I choose not to” instead of “I can’t”. Keep talking. To professionals, friends, family, online forums, organisations. Don’t take people too personally. Everyone is flawed and cannot be exactly what we need. One day at a time. Do one thing that makes you feel good every day. Also, cuddle puppies. And kittens. Cuddle all the animals
Is there anything else you would like to add that you want people to know?
I probably just want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry to each and every one of you that have suffered or are suffering from an eating disorder and anything that may be comorbid with it. No one deserves the anguish and utter heart-wrenching agony and darkness that accompanies them. No one. I have seen the absolute rock bottom. I understand you. I understand your torment. I’m so sorry you are experiencing or have experienced it. I love you. It’s going to be okay. You are absolutely not alone. There are people just like you and me who are testament to that. You are not alone. It will be okay. Thank you too, for reaching out, for checking out a place that promotes hope and support, thank you for doing that for yourself, you are worth the effort. Keep going. You’re doing just fine. And if you feel like all you’re capable of right now is breathing, you ought to be so proud of yourself. I mean it. That’s amazing. Life is the hardest thing you will ever have to do. And you’re doing it. It’s going to be okay.