Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery is possible.

Demons On The Boat

When i was in my first year of treatment, taking those first small, shaky steps into recovery, my lovely dietitian M. read me this story. It was the perfect analogy for my eating disorder, & became a a valued tool in my recovery chest, helping me to both communicate with people about my experience, & also proving a source of inspiration & encouragement when the fight just seemed too hard. I hope you find it helpful too, & when you reach the end, you will see why from that point on, i would always think of M as my ‘mermaid’ 🙂

Demons On The Boat

Imagine you’re steering a ship far out at sea. Below the deck, out of sight, lie a vast horde of demons, all with enormous claws and razor-sharp teeth. These demons have many different forms. Some of them are emotions, such as guilt, anger, fear, or hopelessness. Some are memories of times you’ve failed or been hurt. Others are thoughts like “It’s too hard”, “I’ll make a fool of myself”, or “I’ll fail”. Some of them are mental images, in which you see yourself performing badly or getting rejected; others are strong urges to [not eat or to hurt yourself]*. And still others are unpleasant sensations, such as tightness in your chest, or a knot in your stomach.

Now as long as you keep that ship drifting out at sea, the demons will stay below. But as soon as you start steering toward land, they clamber up from below deck, flapping their membranous wings, baring their fangs, and generally threatening to tear you into little pieces. Not surprisingly, you don’t like that very much, so you cut a deal: “If you demons stay out of sight, down below, I’ll keep the ship drifting out at sea.” The demons agree, and everything seems okay – for a while.

The problem is, eventually you get fed up being at sea. You get bored and lonely, miserable, resentful, and anxious. You see plenty of other ships heading into shore, but not yours. “What sort of life is this?” you think. “That land over there – that’s where I want to be heading”. But the demons down below aren’t particularly interested in what you want. They want to stay out at sea, and that’s final! So the moment you start heading for land, they swarm up onto the deck and start threatening you again.

The interesting thing is, although these demons threaten you, they never actually cause you any physical harm. Why not? Because they can’t! All they can do is growl and wave their claws and look terrifying – physically they can’t even touch you. And once you realise this, you’re free. It means you can take your ship wherever you want – as long as you’re willing to accept the demons presence. All you have to do to reach land is accept that the demons are above deck, accept that they’re doing their level best to scare you, and keep steering the ship towards shore. The demons may howl and protest, but their powerless, because their power relies totally on your belief in their threats.

Image via: All Posters

But if you’re not willing to accept these demons, if you’ve got to keep them below deck at all costs, then your only option is to stay adrift, at sea. Of course, you can try to throw the demons overboard, but while you’re busy doing that no-one is piloting the ship, so you run the risk of crashing into rocks or capsizing. Besides that, it’s a struggle you could never win, because there’s an infinite number of those demons in the hold.

“But that’s horrible!” you may well protest. “I don’t want to live surrounded by demons!” Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you already are. And those demons will keep showing up, again and again, as soon as you start to take your life in a valued direction. Now here’s the good news: if you keep steering your ship toward shore (no matter how much the demons threaten you), many of them will realise they’re having no effect, and will give up and leave you alone. As for the ones that remain, after a while you’ll get used to them. And if you take a good, long look at them, you’ll realise they’re nowhere nearly as scary as they first appeared. You’ll realise they’ve been using special effects to make themselves look a lot bigger than they really are. Sure, they’ll still look ugly; they won’t turn into cute fluffy bunny rabbits; but you’ll find them much less frightening. And you’ll find that you can let them hang around without being bothered by them. (Furthermore, as you continue on that voyage, it’s not just demons that show up. You’ll also encounter angels, mermaids and dolphins!)

Image via: Quotes Wave

And it doesn’t matter how far away from the shore you are. The instant you start heading towards it, you’re living life; you’re having an adventure; you’re moving in a valued direction.

© Russ Harris, 2007
with *adaptations.



Last week i had the privilege of attending the Sydney launch of ‘My Recovery’, an incredible new book from the gorgeous Julie Parker of Beautiful You, & i am so excited to share my thoughts on it with you here today! 🙂

One of the main reasons i started blogging here at Lifeinfullcolour, was to share the message that recovery from eating disorders IS possible.

When i was still entrenched in my eating disorder, i often feared that i would never recover. I felt tired & hopeless, & i couldn’t imagine living a life of freedom again – it just seemed so far out of reach. I had some truly wonderful people around me who tried so hard to encourage me, but what i really wanted was to hear from someone who had beat this illness themselves. I wanted proof that recovery was possible, but that proof was hard to find.

So when i did recover, i knew i wanted to be a voice of hope for those still suffering – someone who could say “I’ve been there, & i know how hopeless & tired you feel. But please don’t give up – recovery IS possible! I am living proof! And i know that one day you will find freedom in recovery too.” 🙂 I wanted to share my story, & encourage others in their own journeys to freedom.

And that is one of the reasons why i am so excited about this book!

With Julie Parker, author of My Recovery

‘My Recovery’ is chock-full of messages just like these – stories filled with hope & encouragement from people who have fought this illness & won. It includes stories from eighteen courageous men & women who have survived anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS), with each survivor sharing not only their eating disorder journey, but also the strategies & tools that helped them along their path to recovery.

When i was first embarked on my journey to recovery, i found there were quite a few books that detailed what it was like to suffer with an eating disorder (a struggle i already knew too well), but hardly any that described what the journey to recovery might look like. Many of the books i read triggered my eating disorder with the mention of weights & other numbers, or detailed descriptions of disordered behaviours, but what i love about ‘My Recovery’, is that it is free of these common triggers, making it suitable for people in all stages of illness & recovery 🙂

So excited to see this book in print!

‘My Recovery’ is an incredible book, & i am so excited to be able to promote it here at Lifeinfullcolour 🙂 Thankyou ever-so-muchly to each of the beautiful people who have shared their stories, & thankyou, thankyou, to the gorgeous Julie Parker for putting together such a wonderful recovery resource – i know this book will inspire & encourage all who read it 🙂

You can buy ‘My Recovery’ as an ebook or in print via Momentum Books. All proceeds will be donated to The Butterfly Foundation to support those whose lives have been touched by eating disorders.

You Are Here For A Reason.

Parts of this post may be distressing.
If you need support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.

Throughout my teen years, & into my early twenties, i was plagued by self-doubt, insecurity, & feelings of worthlessness.

Negative thoughts filled my mind – “you can’t do anything right”, “you are always in the way”, “all you ever do is make people life harder for everyone”, “everyone would be better off without you”... I wondered how anyone could ever like a person like me – boring, stupid, ugly… – what did i have to offer anyone?

I measured my abilities against those of others, & i never seemed to measure up – “you have nothing to offer anyone”, “you are useless, worthless…”, “why do you even bother trying?” I was always trying to be “good enough”, always trying to please others, hoping that someday i might be “good enough” to earn myself a place in this world.

Just after my 18th birthday i tried to kill myself. I was overwhelmed by the pain of my abusive past, & saw no reason to live. In fact, i believed i was doing people a favour, & freeing them from that annoying, useless girl that just kept getting in their way.

I lay in a coma for 3 days, as the doctors told my mother to prepare for my death – “even if she survives, she will be nothing more than a vegetable – unable to feed herself, toilet herself, unable to walk, or to talk….”

But God had other plans for my life.

When i woke up (incredibly unscathed), i did not recognise my blessing. The negative thoughts continued to plague me, & the wounds from my past remained raw. In the 6 years that followed, i would make many more attempts to “disappear”, & i was angry that people wouldn’t “just let me die!”.

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” ~ Richard Bach

When i look back now, i can’t help but see things differently – it is as though God was trying to tell me “I’m not finished with you yet! I need you! You are part of a plan, & there is no-one else in this world that can play your part. You can try all you like to withdraw, to retreat, to give up. You can try all you like to “disappear”, but i created you to stand out – i have big plans for you! You are important! And i am not going to let you disappear, no matter how hard you try.”

Looking back now, i am so thankful that God’s plan won out, & not mine. Because God’s plan? It’s a heck of a lot better than mine was!

So when you find yourself caught up in those negative thoughts – “you have nothing to offer anyone”, “you are useless, worthless…”, “why do you even bother trying?” – know this:

You are here for a reason. You have a purpose.

Never doubt your place in this world – never doubt your significance.
You are here for a reason. You have a purpose.
There is noone else on Earth like you – your knowledge, your experience, your talents, your weaknesses & strengths… you are unique, & the world would not be the same without you.
You were created to do great things, so stand tall in who you are, & know that you are a part of something big & beautiful & important (even if you can’t see the details just yet) 😉

Don’t slink into the background. Don’t hide yourself away.
Show the world your beauty. Glow. Sparkle. Shine.
Let your colours show. Even the darker ones. Even the ones you don’t like. Even the ones that others don’t like.
You are a rainbow. And everyone loves rainbows 😉

Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has sprung here in Australia, & lifeinfullcolour is out of hibernation! Yay! 🙂

(Image via: we♥it.)

A lot has happened in my life this past season.
I started, then withdrew from a university course.
I started & ended a relationship.
I moved house (& months later, am yet to really unpack).
I started attending church, & discovered a beautiful new life of freedom & abundance in Christ.
And i have been blessed with opportunities to support, uplift, & encourage, & to really live my motto here at lifeinfullcolour – ‘Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery is possible’.

Life has been busy &, as always, up & down. But above all, it has been beautiful – much like this glorious Spring day! 🙂

(Image via: we♥it.)

I have missed blogging incredibly, & i can’t wait to get back into it. More than anything though, i look forward to reconnecting with each of you, lifting you up, encouraging you, & sharing our journeys 🙂
That being said, it may take me a little while to settle back into blogging…. In the meantime though, be sure to ‘Like’ Lifeinfullcolour on facebook for splashes of colour, inspiration & encouragement, & updates on new posts 🙂

Until next time my lovelies 🙂
Have a beautiful day!

I’ve just finished reading a great post from this ain’t livin’, ‘On ‘Taking Care of Your Body’ and Value Judgments’, & it got me to thinking – what does “taking care of myself” mean to me? Because while others may use those words as a euphemism for how “healthy” (aka thin & toned), or appealing i may appear to them, the truth is, that how i take care of myself , & the level to which i do so are very personal, & have very little to do with how other people define “taking care of themselves”.

So what does “taking care of myself” mean to me?
It means:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Spending time with friends
  • Speaking to myself with kind & loving words
  • Taking time out to relax (jigsaw puzzles, DVDs, colouring books, board games, or reading work great for me :))
  • Connecting with nature
  • Eating lots of fresh fruits & vegetables (oh how i love a big fruit salad or a fresh vegie juice!)
  • Moving my body in fun & gentle ways – like going to the beach, dancing, or even climbing trees! 🙂

It means making time for, & allowing myself, to nourish not only my body, but also my soul. It means being gentle with myself, & seeking out balance. And it has nothing at all to do with what i weigh or how toned my arms are.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
What do those words mean to you?

(Images via: We ♥ it.)

[Image via: SooBoo Designs]

Sometimes, all we need is a little validation to remind us how amazing we are 🙂
And so, i have a challenge for you 😉

I want you, to make someone smile.
I want you to give someone a genuine, heart-felt compliment.

It could be your partner. It could be your child.
It could be your co-worker, your friend, or your neighbour.
It could be the person who makes your morning coffee, or the person you sit next to on the bus.
Or it could even be the first person you pass in the street.

Whoever it is, i can guarantee that you will make their day 🙂
And you never know, you might find yourself on the receiving end of some pretty great compliments too! 🙂

Did you make someone smile today?
Leave me a comment & let me know – i’d love to hear how it went! 🙂