Anorexia And Moving Towards Intuitive Eating

If you have an eating disorder, the chances are that you’ve shut out your body’s desires for so long that you don’t know how to recognise cues for hunger or fullness.

I am having to practice mindfulness whilst I eat to try to relearn awareness of these cues. There is improvement, and I now sometimes feel hungry or full.

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My nutritionist is helping me with this process, and I know have a new goal. I still have a meal plan, but rather than having a set menu of meals and snacks every day of the week, I can now choose what I want from that plan at each meal.

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My fridge freezer and cupboards are now full, it feels so grown up. Some days it’s easy for me to choose, and at others I can only stick with what I would have previously had for that meal, on that day. Progress not perfection.

Chicken with walnuts, fried with peppers and soy sauce is still one of my favourites.

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I’m pleased with the progress I’m making

UK Based Eating Disorder Charities

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men and Boys Get Eating And Exercise Disorders Scotland

International Eating Disorder Charities

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

Peer Support groups

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous

Smart Recovery

Over-Eaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

Two vlogersI have found useful who are in recovery or recovered

Megsy recovery

Tabitha Farrar

Anorexia Recovery – Christmas – New Foods – What Is Hunger

Right now I’m very pleased with the progress that I’m making. Food is certainly something that I’m enjoying. The obsessive thoughts that I had around food have decreased considerably, but they are certainly intense when my emotions are strong.

The most difficult time over the Christmas period was when shopping the day after I arrived in Cork. I had a shopping list for breakfasts, lunch and snacks, but I found being in a new shop, in a new town and being around so much food was challenging.

hdrplProfiterole, cheesecake and Ben and Jerry.

I heavily over-ate one night whilst I was in Cork, and I had a couple of nights where I had a few chocolates. So what! It’s no big deal, and I didn’t go into guilt and shame.

I had several foods I hadn’t eaten for a long time, which included Chinese and Asian street food, ham, tomato and salad sandwiches, a full English and Christmas Dinner.

IMG_20181223_222144.jpgSingapore special chow mein.

I cooked Christmas Dinner. I love cooking and I was very satisfied with my cooking. Roast lamb, roast beef, sprouts cooked with bacon and pear, honey glazed parsnips, glazed buttered carrots, fluffy roast potatoes and breaded mushroom for starter. I’m very impressed with the progress that I am making.

IMG_20181225_152729.jpgI cooked this Christmas Roast. 

It also feels like my weight has stabilised. I don’t weigh myself, but I don’t think I’m putting on anymore either – which is a relief.

I’m going on holiday to India next year, so I need to be flexible with my eating, and I want to learn to eat according to hunger and fullness. I experience hunger so infrequently. I didn’t feel it at all when I wasn’t eating, so anytime when I feel slightly hungry or slightly full is a time of excitement for me. I’m focusing intently on my stomach and tummy before, during and after eating. I’ve now had two very subtle feelings of fullness. I can’t believe how excited I feel at feeling hungry or full. Life is bizarre.

IMG_20181223_180751.jpgI can’t believe how wonderful a ham sandwich tastes.

Things are going well. I still get some intense thoughts about eating or restricting, and shopping disturbed me so much that it triggered my neuro-muscular condition, but overall my recovery is going well.

Mental Health Professionals Stigmatize People With Mental Illness

Sadly there is a host of peer-reviewed research which highlight the reality that mental health professionals stigmatise people with mental health problems.

Although this is a disturbing finding, being on the receiving end of it is far worse. I have experienced this as an inpatient, as an outpatient and also in general.

I’m aware of these attitudes, but today I perceived stigmatisation by a former mental health professional. Yes some of my photography is disturbing, yes I’m aware of this, but do I have to hide my lived reality, whether past or present, so as not to offend you? No! My lived experience is real, and as a visual artist I will retain my authenticity, even if you believe it to be attention seeking. It isn’t, but to describe it so only increases the social exclusion that exacerbates mental health problems in the first place.

At some point in the future I will write a photo essay which explores stigmatisation by mental health care and general health care professionals.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16445483/

https://academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article/32/4/709/1934707

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0840470416679413

Eating Disorder Recovery And The Holiday Season – Anxious

I’m going to stay with supportive friends over the holiday period. I’m feeling excited to be spending time with them again.

However, I’m very anxious about changes in my routine and having different foods for lunch and dinner. My breakfast and snacks will remain the same.

What can I do to stay safe?

  • Attend the online mutual aid groups that are working for me
  • Stay in telephone, WhatsApp and email contact with others in recovery
  • Be honest with my friends if I am struggling
  • Prepare lunch and snacks to take out with me – I can’t choose food in the community if I’m hungry, it panics me
  • Read recovery literature
  • Focus on this meal. The only meal I can eat is the one in front of me
  • Expect emotional discomfort – it’s OK to feel

I’ve also discovered that a recovery group called anorexic and bulimic anonymous have a 24 hour meeting that I can pop into for as long or short a time as I want to. anyone with a desire to stop unhealthy eating practices can attend. It’s from 10pm (EST) on Christmas eve till 10pm  (EST) Christmas day. It’s on zoom and the meeting code is 862 815 9185.

I’ll also be in touch with my nutritionist/therapist, I speak with him on Christmas eve. The friends I am staying with are incredibly laid back, and they are not concerned whether I eat from my plan or eat with them. So if being flexible, and eating with them isn’t right then I can revert to my plan.

Wishing all a happy Christmas.

Resources

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Where Did The Peace Come From? And Two Successful Food Challenges

Having an eating disorder is hard work, and these early stages of recovery have been frightening, difficult, shameful and incredibly rewarding. My history has been to come out of long periods of anorexic restriction, only to flip into bulimia or compulsive over-eating.

This time is different, it hasn’t been plain sailing, and I have flipped between the three states. But I have made significant progress and can see stability coming through. So much so that I’ve had a lot of peace around food over the past week. I put that down to my supportive peers, my online community, attending mutual aid, and a reconnection with my spiritual pathway.

This week’s success have been:- Asking a friend to cook me a meal of his choice and allowing him to sort out my portion, and eating 1 slice of Jam Roly Poly, a food which I have previously binged on. I can’t afford to play the game of safe/unsafe foods – that will only take me back down the road of only eating 1 ciabatta a day. I’m not going there.

I have one more challenge this week, to go to a cafe and eat a fried vegetarian breakfast.

Keep smiling

oznorMy afternoon snack – 2 scones with butter and jam.

IMG_20181205_175418.jpgBeef stroganoff – cooked for me by a friend.

 

A Surprise In The Mirror – Anorexia Recovery And A Huge Step Forward

My journal entry for December the first, 2018

Today I looked myself in the eye, I paused and looked at my face, and I looked well.

Breathe – I look well.

This was a very special experience for me. When my eating disorder ruled my life I loved feeling my bones. Rightly or wrongly I got joy from doing so, it was as if I was touching my essence. But to do so I was killing me, harming me, putting my life at risk of serious injury, illness and death. I wasn’t in denial. I knew that I was doing so, and I didn’t care.

Today I had a sober day in my eating practice. I had three meals and three snacks. Other than the occasional over-eating I have followed my meal plan for three months now.

And today, I looked myself in the eye and I looked well. I CAN lovingly nurture my body and look and feel well – even if I’m not happy with my weight gain.

This morning I dropped off my 30 inch waist jeans at a charity collection point. I would love to keep them. I still want to fit into them again, but not as much as I want photography, travel and study. I cannot keep one foot in anorexia and one in recovery. I am not willing to let go of my passion, photography is of more value to me than chasing the impossible, unobtainable anorexic goal post of the ever decreasing number.

Anorexia Recovery? Update

My recovery from anorexia and bulimia is sometimes frustrating. With the aid of my nutritionist I am now eating. I’m eating healthier than I ever have done, and I enjoy it. But I’ve put on weight and I have that voice in my head calling me fat and disgusting. Despite this I binged last night.

I won’t compensate, I won’t purge, I’ll follow what I’m meant to eat today.

My eating disorder is not about food. It’s a symptom of my desire and need for control because I find life scary, intolerable at times. I want to change how I feel. Recovery is scary because my feelings come back, because my powerlessness over life comes back.

I will keep plodding on despite being scared. Despite my ups and downs. Two steps forwards and one step back is still a step forward.

Trigger Warning – Self Harm – Suicide -Exercise 4.12 Foundations In Photography

Trigger Warning

My next post, later today or tomorrow, will include graphic images in relation to suicide and self harm. This is a subject which may provoke an emotional response. I invite you to ignore my next post if you think this will affect you negatively.

If you need support in relation to suicide or self harm then please seek it, you are not alone.

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My Anorexia Recovery Update

The ups and downs of anorexia recovery

The ups
Eating public is highly uncomfortable, I don’t like doing it. But it was time for my snack. I reminded myself that if anyone notices they just see a person eating. For many people this is so normal they wouldn’t even notice. If they had noticed they wouldn’t see an anorexic eating, they would just see a guy eating. Do I identify myself too much as an anorexic, rather than a person with a mental illness? The seagull was the only one who noticed.

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Two hours later and I’m now in a cafe and am about to have two chicken salad sandwiches. My meal plan for today is two ciabattas with jam, but I can’t get that in a cafe. I took advice from somebody who is further along in their recovery than I am. As chicken is on my plan (day 5) then I can have the chicken, I’m used to it, and it means that I’m not introducing a new food unplanned. New foods are tricky and are best eaten at home. It feels like everyone is staring at me.

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The downs
I purged on Wednesday. It’s irrelevant how I purged, but I did. That’s a relapse. It left me feeling distant from the people who love me and my support network. Purging brought up feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness. I felt useless and had thoughts of not attending my self-help group. Addictive behaviour makes my world smaller, and hand on heart 💓, I deserve better.

The love
Despite fearing rejection I got honest. I told people that I have built trust with, my long-term friends, and I also shared about it in a self help group that I attend. I was treated with love, gentleness, kindness and understanding. People called me after the meeting and helped me to explore why I did it.

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The why
I have so many thoughts about food, about bingeing, about starving myself. Its obsessive, it dirsturbs me. I hate those thoughts. The way that I purged isnt important. It takes those crazy food thoughts away from me and brings some relief. But it also puts me at risk in so many ways. My paranoia and anxiety increase.

The solution
Shopping is a trigger for me. I need to stop walking around shops just to be around food. I need to either shop online or just shop at the co-op. I know where everything is in the co-op so I can go in with a list and shop quickly. As shopping is a trigger I could message a friend before hand so that I can remain accountable, and to have someone else that cares about me aware of my discomfort.

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I also need to be patient, loving, kind and gentle with myself. Recovery is a process – it’s not an instant fix. Some days I will struggle, and some times my thinking will drive me mad. I’m going to have to learn to sit in discomfort. Many of my peers in the self help group have been recovered for years. I can’t force myself to be at their stage. I need to give myself permission to be where I am, and to keep moving forward. Hope will help me with this. Knowing that others have been through this and come out of the otherwise is inspiring.
Richard, I love you. Richard, eating is the loving thing to do. You’re so worth it.

cof

The last half of the sandwich was so hard to eat. It looks to much for me. But my therapist, nutritionist says this is the right amount for now.

UK Based Eating Disorder Charities

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men and Boys Get Eating And Exercise Disorders Scotland

International Eating Disorder Charities

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

Peer Support groups

Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous

Smart Recovery

Over-Eaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

Two vlogersI have found useful who are in recovery or recovered

Megsy recovery

Tabitha Farrar

The End Of The Pagan/Celtic Year – My Review Of The Past 12 Months And Goals For The Year Ahead

When I’m in tune spiritually at the end of the pagan year, I like to reflect upon the past year and say thanks for it. I also consider the year ahead.

The start of the new year as winter sets in makes sense. Traditionally winter would be the end of the life cycle for many people. Even now winter is a time of increased death rates for the elderly and vulnerable. The new year was a spiritual occasion in which prayers would be asked for protection over the winter months. It was also believed that the half way points of the spring and autumn (equinox), was when the barrier between the physical world and the underworld was at its weakest. A time when spirits could cross over and would take the weakest. During the middle ages and up to the Victorian era, communities would gather, light bonfires, celebrate and also cross dress . Men would dress as women and vice versa, in order to confuse the spirits and thereby preserve their life for the year ahead.

Today i took the opportunity for prayer and reflection whist I was walking between Redcar and Maske By The Sea. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I have some wonderful friends, who have been part of my life for many years, I am developing deeper friendships with my peers, and I’m also developing friendships and a supportive community on WordPress.

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I got accepted into university – I’m glad I deferred it because I would have been to Ill to attend anyway. My tutor has given me some ideas which organisations that I can approach with a view to an exhibition of my photographic body of work about eating disorders. She values the personal integrity of my photography, and this was also stated in my interview with the University for the Creative Arts. I’m beginning to get a feel for the kind of photography that I want to make, the photography for relaxation and fun – and events. I really enjoyed the narrative of A Hermits Journey (here). Technically I’m improving as well, especially in Photoshop, although I do need to stop and consider which is the easiest approach to bring the quality that I desire. I need to read more books on photography as well. When reviewing the work of other photographers, finding a balance between books and internet resources is critical.

I’m  also enjoying the creativity of mixed media art, and I’m loving being part of the OCA collaboration group. I don’t make photographs for that. I’m using it as an opportunity to explore written and spoken word.

One of the highlights of my year was the photomontage I created using street art (here). It was wonderful to gain consent to use music by DJ’s from Mars. Approaching established artists with a view to making use of their work is new to me, and feels like a huge leap forward.oznor

It’s also a pleasure to witness the development and progress of my peers. We all have different skills, preferences and unique styles of the photography and it’s been a privilege to view. I’ve been able to try techniques that I wouldn’t have considered if I hadn’t seen their work. We all comment upon each others work, and this has been a vital part of my progression. I still find it hard to critique the work of my peers, although it is getting easier.

One particular photo produced by @andykabi on Instagram – touched that place of shame, persecution, unworthiness and vulnerability within me. It’s the most I’ve been affected by a photograph. Andy was kind enough to send me a signed copy. I get it back from the picture framers tomorrow.

As for my WordPress buddies, I’m touched by your honesty, integrity and support. You are so compassionate and have so much wisdom, which you share on your blogs and in comments.

Cork and london have presented me with opportunities to explore the unfamiliar. I love London, my holiday and time there were incredible. Sadly, I became very ill and had to return home. However, I’m trying to arrange a home-swap so that I can live in London. One of my main motivators is to become involved in a dynamic, vibrant and creative community. I was fortunate enough to meet two of my OCA friends whilst in London, but was too I’ll to meet two others as planned.

Now is the time to move, and to build a face to face community. Am I ready to start meeting up with people? Yes I am. It will be beneficial in so many ways, and one of those is in relation to my mental health.

Anorexia has taken it’s toll on my body and mind. The possibility of dying from anorexia was never going to be a motivating factor to change. However, my illness affected my photography and that was enough for me to seek and utilise supoort so that I can recover. Photography is saving my life for the second time. My passion for photography is intense. The more I make photos, watch the photography of others, and study photography – the more I fall in love with it. The more I have to give and the more I have to receive. Now that I’m in early recovery from anorexia and eating regularly, my ability to go back out with my camera has returned. The process of forming and developing creative ideas is such and pleasure, to be coming up with new idead again is wonderful. This is enough motivator for me to eat and continue with my recovery.

Occasionally I write photo essays, which have all been published in The Sociological Mail. Shaneka kindly publishes my writing, and I’d like to produce more articles over the next 12 months. Shaneka is always on the lookout for contributors, and I believe that she would appreciate the services of someone who can help with site maintenance and communicating with the feature writers.

My hopes and goals for the year ahead are :-

  • Move to London, Guildford or Farnham
  • Complete Foundations in Photography
  • Start a degree in photography with either the OCA or UCA
  • Exhibit my eating disorders body of work
  • Stay in recovery from anorexia
  • Develop the friendships I have
  • Develop new face to face friendships
  • Explore mixed media art
  • Assisted/guided photography/portraits for those who want to add photos in with their writing
  • Get involved with creatives in London
  • Travel to India
  • Write 7 photo essays
  • Write more poetry
  • Deepen my spirituality
  • Come to trust that the universe wants what’s best for me
  • Take a street photography workshop
  • Meet up with fellow students
  • Attend OCATV
  • Find some good birdwatching spots and go birdwatching monthly.
  • Find a photographer to get to know.
  • Eat no more and no less than what’s on my plan
  • Meditate every day
  • Attend yoga classes
  • Finish my model
  • Create a folder for competition stand photos
  • Read part of a photography book each morning