Joy Joy Joy.

Date and walnut loaf is one of my favourite things to cook. If I had a picture of date and walnut loaf, I would place it here for you to perve on. Unfortunately, I do not. I apologise. Sitting here drinking a cup of tea and eating a chocolate biscuit and thinking of things that make me happy. Bella makes me happy – she’s the most beautiful dog of all! Company and friends and laughter make me happy. My heat wheats make me happy … and so do these photos. Hope they make you happy too.

 

This banana makes me immensely happy

And this promise makes me happy.

This gorgeous place makes me overjoyed.

And these feet make me beyond happy. Honestly, they look like happy feet, do they not?

Would like to share my famous date and walnut loaf recipe with you:

Date and Walnut Loaf

– 1 cup of chopped dates

– 1 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup water

– 2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour

– 1 cup mashed ripe banana or apple puree

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

– 1/2 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda

– 10 or so glazed cherries, quarted.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 14 cm x 21 cm loaf pan. Combine dates, sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook stirring 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add flour, apple, nuts and bi-carb. Stir until combined. Spoon into tin, smooth surface. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and stand for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack. Serve with honey or marg – delicious toasted in the coming days!

These things make me happy. And it’s delightful finding some enjoyment in life that doesn’t come from how much the scales tell me I weigh.

What makes you happy?

B xxxx

Midnight Ramblings.

A quarter to twelve. Drinking a cup of tea. Kind of hungry. Is it normal to eat at this time of night if you feel hungry? Not entirely sure.

Will eat yoghurt.

Sundays in this household are a bit funny food-wise and it stresses me out (though less so in more recent days). Breakfast is normal, I skip morning tea ’cause I am at church, have lunch, have afternoon tea, eat something light before church and then eat something else at 9:30 after church. Except tonight we had to drive someone home (another story altogether), so food consumings occurred later than the norm. ie now.

(Also, I’m not going to lie here. Just ate a piece of cooking chocolate)

So really today, I haven’t had any meals, bar breakfast and lunch. Just sort of random snacking. And random snacking is what the bulimic life was all about and so I’m sure you can imagine my stress at the moment. Perhaps not.

Let me explain.

When I was bulimic, I didn’t eat for long periods of time – sometimes not from breakfast until dinner time. And other days I would eat half a cup of (measured) strawberry yoghurt and then eat some carrots for lunch and then eat dinner and throw it up. Then I’d binge. A binge might involve opening the fridge door and picking at some fruit and nut cheese, eating 15 dates (counting them because I was still freaking myself out), eating multiple chocolate biscuits and leftover dinner from the night before or couscous, or jars of taco sauce, or eating the sultanas out of the cereal, and then bingeing on the cereal (we’re talking lots of cereal here) and crackers … and boxes of muesli bars… and peanut butter straight from the jar. All of this before drinking almost a litre of water in order to make myself throw up the food that I had just eaten.

Binge behaviour scares me. It’s one of the reasons I think I couldn’t go back to restricting my intake actually, because I realise that eventually I’d end up malnourished and falling victim to bulimia again. It’s not a pretty position to be in. Standing in the shower and throwing up kilos of food onto your feet is as unpleasant as it sounds. Throwing up blood is as terrifying as you might think it would be. I used to be there in the shower thinking “I’m going to die this time. God, please don’t let me die this way”. I could have and am so thankful that I didn’t. Not the best way to go, obviously.

I’m not going to lie. I still have food fears. I still have this awful feeling that I’m going to blimp out overnight and that any overeating at all will make me put on weight and it will be really obvious for all to see. So how do I get past that? In the long-term, I don’t want to stress about the extra piece of choccie that I ate, or that I had a tablespoon more of yoghurt than normal or that A made custard and I sort of indulged and ‘I really shouldn’t have done that, it was so bad’. I know that a full recovery means no more fretting about food. I don’t want to live my life this way anymore, and I don’t think I will. I don’t know if it’s even possible – but I’m going to do it anyway.

Featuring a photo of my friend Carole for funsies.

And also to point out my pre-eating disordered days when I was bigger, but kinda chubby faced and cute. You may observe I still have a baby tooth (it’s being removed on Friday! Ahh).

And here’s the eating disorder days:

[click to seeeeee (warning: triggering)]

Yeah, I look disgusting. Would you believe I thought I was fat here? I may not leave this photo up, I understand it could be triggering for some people – but I just want to highlight how screwed up the anorexic / bulimic brain in is convincing the individual that they are fat. It is so far from true. And it makes me so sad that some people never realise this and continue to live their lives as they are, or (very sadly), their eating disorder beats them.

Did you know that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder? That 1 in 10 girls in Australia currently suffer at the hands of an eating disorder? Someone you know probably has experienced this in one form or another. So what can we do? How can we stop this seemingly apparent epidemic from spreading any further than what it has? We look out for each other. We confront each other. We tell each other we’re lovely as we are. We eat chocolate and cook delicious meals and enjoy them and don’t give a stuff about whether or not we can wrap our hands around our waist.

We learn how to not care, somehow.

Good night, interwebs.

B xxxx

True Happiness?

I’m sitting here and it’s pouring rain in Gerringong and I have a cup of coffee in a mug that has a handsome bear on the side of it. I just ate some date and walnut loaf which I recently baked and is absolutely delicious. I’ve been looking through some old photos of myself and thinking how back in the day, I used to think that being thin would make me happy. That if I could just reach Xkg, then I would be smiling and feel good about myself.

So I reached Xkg and I didn’t feel any of those things. In fact, I felt worse about myself. I had to eat less and less and exercise more and more to keep that weight off. I had to think about every crumb I put in my mouth. I wrote endless lists, day after day about what I had eaten – calculating calories, fat and carbs. It was debilitating. It was not how a life should be lived. It is not the pathway to happiness at all.

Here’s a picture of me in my spiral down towards anorexia. It’s not my lowest weight by far, but I still look sad and it makes me sad.

So if life and happiness and living isn’t about  your weight or what you look like or your friends and family or where you live, then what is it about? I’m not suggesting that the things I just mentioned don’t bring happiness – but they’re fleeting, don’t you think? For me, in becoming a Christian when I was 13, and in the 6 years since then, I have discovered that my ultimate happiness and worth is found in Christ.

With anorexia, it’s never enough. You’re never enough. There’s too much of you. You think: I’ll lose 10kg, and then I’ll be happy. You aren’t. You aim for another 10kg. You’re still not happy with your body, and worse off, you have lost your friends that you have pushed away and your family and you hide your body from everyone and barely even remember how to smile anymore. You lose weight for you. Everything becomes about you; you’re now so self-absorbed you ignore those who extend their hand to pull you back.

I used to miss the old me, the skinny girl who knew exactly what she weighed and what she had eaten each day and how many calories she had burned off doing 5 gym classes that day. I used to think “I was so much happier then.”

I wasn’t.

If gaining 16kg means I get to eat food and enjoy food and say “This is how God created me and I’m so damn grateful for that”, then I’m ready to source my happiness elsewhere.

Real happiness and true laughter and smiles and genuine emotions are what I now indulge in. No more of that stressing about food. No more of that guilty feeling. No more eating disordered Rebekah.

There’s a bright future ahead, and the eating disorder is not invited along.

B xxxx

L&A. Or John & Helen.

I have no intentions of letting this blog become a journal of sorts – my intention is to share my story and help others understand eating disorders, as well as giving support and encouragement to those also bumbling along the recovery path – or searching for it.

I feel the need to explain to you how I have reached the position that I have – that is, being recovery focused and willing to try to stop eating disordered behaviour.

In February of this year (2011), I moved out of home and into our church minister and his fam’s house. Let’s call them John and Helen. They have provided me with a stable family environment, support, love, attention and care that I need (and have needed) in order to get through this illness. That has come at a price – many fights and tears and frustrated sighs and sacrifices. These things have made me realise that I am perhaps a valuable person, that I am perhaps not as worthless as I originally thought, and that maybe it is alright to have needs and need people and need family and need support. I have been reminded today of the enormity of this – they have done so very much for me. And they have done it because they care for me, yes, and want to see me well – but also because they want to see me continue to grow in Christ’s love and my relationship with Him … and also because they love Him too.

Susie Orbach writes this:

“…it is precisely the actuality and availability of a reliable emotional relationship that makes it possible for the woman to confront her inner distress. The [therapist] acts as the supporting external psyche that contains her, allowing her to let go sufficiently for the buried emotional wounds to emerge.”

Replace “therapist” with “L&A” and you will understand, therefore, the support that they have been to me this past year.

They aren’t perfect, and none of us are … But they took the time-out to remind me that I deserve far better than an eating disorder and that people really do care about me too.

I guess this is just a challenge to you guys too – how willing are you to show someone that you love them? Or that God loves them? It’s the most important thing in an eating disordered patient in order for them to successfully recover.

And more than anything, I want to show the people in my life that I care for them and love them in the things I do and express, being selfless and as understanding as I can be.

More than anything, I think Jesus is the ultimate role model in this.

B X

What is an Eating Disorder?

This post is primarily to educate. If you wish to skip all the eating disorder facts, I briefly share some of my own story towards the end of this blog post.

An eating disorder is characterised by obsessive thoughts about food and body weight. This includes people who limit the amount of food they eat (Anorexia Nervosa), eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time and then  purge (Bulimia Nervosa), or overeat often (Compulsive Eating).

Eating disorders do not discriminate – that is, despite the fact that it is generally believed only females suffer from this mental illness, there are many cases of males also suffering. The prevalence of the condition is higher in females; however, and it is estimated that 8.8% of female adolescents in Australia have an eating disorder. Almost half of these young women also experience high levels of depression and anxiety.

There are many causes of eating disorders, and it is too difficult to do an intricate breakdown of contributing factors. I would like to mention though that despite the belief that the media should bear most of the blame, and despite their influence on society in terms of body image and the like, it is wrong to singularly blame the media for eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia. Other factors leading to eating disordered behaviour also may include family breakdown, physical, sexual or emotional abuse or genetic inheritance. So we can see that there are personal, psychological and social factors all contributing to the continual rise of eating disorders in our society.

Eating disorders can be treated, and treated successfully – hooray! A team of professionals is usually necessary, and should include a psychologist or psychiatrist, a dietitian, nurses and doctors. Hospitalisation may also be necessary, depending on the severity of the weight loss.

Anorexia Nervosa is a psychiatric disorder characterised by an unrealistic fear of weight gain, self-starvation and a conspicuous distortion of body image. The individual is obsessed with becoming increasingly thinner and limits food intake to the point where health is compromised. The disorder may be fatal. The name comes from two Latin words that mean nervous inability to eat.” (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)

Bulimia Nervosa  is a serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorder affecting mainly young women. People with bulimia, known as bulimics, consume large amounts of food (binge) and then try to rid themselves of the food and calories (purge) by fasting, excessive exercise, vomiting, or using laxatives. The behavior often serves to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Because bulimia results from an excessive concern with weight control and self-image, and is often accompanied by depression, it is also considered a psychiatric illness.” (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)

Compulsive Eating is an eating disorder characterised by continuous or frequent excessive eating over which an individual does not feel he or she has control, and which usually leads to weight gain and obesity. Eating is not connected to hunger, and food intake may be rapid or secret. Compensatory behaviors like purging, laxative use, or excessive exercise do not occur. Generally the amount eaten at any one time is not large; when it is, the disorder is usually called binge eating.”

Primarily, I would like to focus on Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa considering these two illnesses are what I have been dealing with, though Bulimia in more recent times. My eating disorder dates way back to when I was eight years old. I thought that I was fat (when I wasn’t) and have very profound memories of guilt surrounding food. I remember what I weighed when I was ten years old and had a desire to never weigh more than 50kg.

In year eleven, I developed an unhealthy obsession with exercise (sometimes doing up to 30 gym classes, plus running, swimming, bike riding and walking in a week). I restricted my food intake and eventually lost 16kg as a result of starvation – I was within a healthy weight range before I lost any weight. I had an unhealthy fixation with food, weight loss and exercise and became very agitated if I was to miss my heavy exercise regime.

About 7 months later, I started binge eating – I would wake up in the morning and eat 4 packets of porridge and cheese and crackers, before heading to school and walking around with a bloated and ill stomach all day, consuming nothing and doing three hours of exercise at night. I slowly was spiralling out of control. My binge eating was a result of my self-imposed starvation – I was quite malnourished, and my body decided to feed itself, considering I was not.

I gained 10kg in this time, before I started purging through means of laxatives and vomiting. I started to (very slowly, as my metabolism was basically non-existent by this point) lose weight again.

The only way out of the binge / purge cycle is the very thing that is scariest to the anoretic or bulimic – a diet rich in nutritional goodness, that steps out of the ‘safe food comfort zone’ and provides an adequate amount of calories – calories that consist of carbs, fat and protein.

I’m happy to say that I have not binged in a few months! I am able to regularly (every two to three hours) feed my body the food it both requires and deserves. In future blog posts, I will seek to discuss physical complications of anorexia and bulimia, as well as my own experiences with these and also further explain the contributing factors that led to my eating disorder.

I hope I have equipped you with knowledge you have not previously known about the nature of eating disorders so that you too can look out for people in your life who may be susceptible to such a disease.

 

Bek X

The Hunger Strike.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Hunger Strike’ by Susie Orbach. Some of its ideas are outdated and it’s rather intellectual but it’s fantastic. Last night I read a chapter entitled ‘Food: From Poison to Palatable’. She discusses anorexia as being a suppression of ones own desires and needs – more than just the bodily desire of nourishment, but also satisfaction, sexual desire and sleep. She also discusses their desire to (ironically) have no desires – feeling inwardly out of control, essentially feeling guilty for being a human being.

“The woman with anorexia has uncannily strong opinions. Her socialization process has been less rather than more congruent with the culture at large. Even if she has appeared on the surface to have been reasonably contended, she has not in actuality been able to accept the strictures and constraints of her role. She has balked at them inside. She has not been able to suppress her feelings successfully and yet she has no validation for them. She ends up with a character that contains determination and anger as a result. She feels enormously guilty at the fact of her desires. She may not be able to articulate them fully but she experiences their force. They feel uncontrollable. She may feel chaotic inside, at the mercy of tumultuous emotions. She wants to burst out, to smash things, to have all the goods in the shops, all the experiences life has to offer, but at the same time she will have none of them. Desire is curtailed and she proves to herself repeatedly that these inconvenient and encumbering needs that so plague and disturb her can be managed and denied. The agonizing process of suppressing such powerful and conflicting feelings requires a tremendous and ever-increasing vigilance. As they threaten to erupt, so she must crush them more vehemently. The more a want is felt, the more stringent will be the food refusal. One and one makes two. The logic of parallel denial shapes her thinking and actions.” 1

I have been giving this much thought, particularly this morning, as so much of my anorexia was about this. My anorexic brain told me desires I may have felt weren’t normal – that I was essentially bad because of them. I still struggle with it now – I have difficulty articulating when I need a hug or a hand squeeze or a cry – because I fear these needs aren’t normal, that people will judge me because of such feelings. And these emotions that arise are so vastly overwhelming – it is plain to see why the anorexic recoils.

I was so out of touch with my body at my lowest weight. I walked around in a daze at school, sleeping through classes. I stayed awake all night, eating one almond every hour. I feel such a constant hunger – but I refused to admit I was hungry. The anoretic creates a shell around themselves, their only little world. They become what they think is invincible, they cringe to see someone submit to their own body’s needs and desires.

I now think there is nothing more beautiful than giving the body what it needs to think, move, speak and act. Feeding the body so that it can function – that’s real control. Eating disorders are crippling, tragic and heart-breaking. The sense of worthlessness and the self-hatred that is inflicted upon the body is ugly and destructive, and the eating disordered patient deserves far better.

B x

1 ‘Hunger Strike’ – Susie Orbach. ‘Food: From Poison to Palatable’ pg 123.

In the Beginning…

So I’ve had a break from writing and I don’t think I’m all that wonderful at it anymore. I decided I needed to start blogging, in the hopes that a random anoretic or bulimic would stumble across this page and be encouraged to recover or feel that they can or have the support that is necessary to them at this current point in their life.

I guess I also needed support from you guys too, the people I know.

Not many people know my story, or about the last two years. Basically, I have been recovering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. I have been seeing a dietitian, an eating disorder specialist, I’ve attended an outpatient program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and a day program in Glebe. No, I am not entirely well – but I am most definitely on the way!

All praise to the God who upholds and sustains.

So perhaps some posts will be downhearted, some upbeat – but I want you to come along with me on my road to recovery – a whole, fulfilling and wonderful life.

 

Love, Rebekah.