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

Posts tagged ‘support’

If You Had Told Me Life Could Be This Overwhelming Beautiful, I Never Would Have Believed You.

To the -oh-so-lovely M.
[my mermaid – the dietitian who swam beside me during my first year of treatment],

You saw me through my first year of treatment, holding my hand as i took those first shaky steps towards recovery. You helped me to consider that my worth was greater than any number on a scale – that i deserved to recover. While it took me much longer to truly believe this, you helped to sow this seed of value in my soul – one which i would continue to nurture over the next two years, into the beautiful, flourishing blossom of self-worth that rests in my heart today 🙂

[From the ‘thankyou’ gift i made for M., when we finished our work together.]

To the brilliant M.C.
[the psychologist who gave me the space to discover ‘me’],

You were the first person to provide me with a space that was truly my own. At first I didn’t know how to fill it – it took me quite a while before I learnt how to “just say whatever comes to mind”. When we first began our meetings together, I filled them with the expectations & offerings of others, but as time went on, I realised that this was not a space for the ideas of others – it was a space for me to discover my own. And it was in these meetings, that I began to discover myself – one beautiful, hidden piece at a time 🙂

Thankyou for being consistent.
Thankyou for being reliable.
Thankyou for being here when I needed you to be, & thankyou for the times when you weren’t.
Thankyou for your silence, even though it made me uncomfortable.
Thankyou for your words.
Thankyou for the pushes when I needed them, & for supporting me when I needed to stay still.
Thankyou for helping me to feel safe again.
Thankyou for teaching me that crying is actually okay.
Thankyou for your lack of criticism, but thankyou also, for not always agreeing with me.
Thankyou for your reassurance.
Thankyou for giving me this space, & the time to learn how best to use it.
Most of all, thankyou for helping me to feel worthy of filling it.

[A bag i sewed as a ‘thankyou’ gift for C.T.
Yep – those are my feet!]

To the beautiful C.T.
[the dietitian who helped me explore an exciting lifeinfullcolour during my 2nd & 3rd years in treatment],

You taught me about so much more than food & eating. In teaching me to trust my body, you taught me to trust in myself. In encouraging ‘experiments’, you helped me to replace my fear with curiosity – & that curiosity has led me to discover beauty & wonder in every place I look. You helped me discover the things I value – you helped me to discover MY value.

Thankyou for your encouragement.
Thankyou for your smile 🙂
Thankyou for your patience – especially in the face of my many shoulder shrugs & “I don’t know”s.
Thankyou for your flexibility – for allowing me to work with you, in a way that worked for me.
Thankyou for your humour.
Thankyou for sharing you enthusiasm for nutrition with me – & for helping me to uncover my own shared passion.
Thankyou for your metaphors, analogies, & crazy hand-waving.
Thankyou for recognising, that the smallest of steps can sometimes be the hardest to take.
Thankyou for celebrating those steps with me 🙂

[Every cloud has a silver lining…]

M.C. & i had already said our goodbyes back in December after he moved on from his work at the ED service, but i had still been keeping appointments with C.T. C.T & i met again this past Tuesday, & although we had been working together for a couple of years now, there was something very different about this particular meeting…. This time our appointment was not for my ‘treatment’ – this time, we were celebrating 🙂

Three years after entering treatment for an eating disorder, i was ready to move on. And so, on Tuesday, the 8th March, 2011, after a beautiful celebration, i walked out of C.T.’s office, & through the door of the big cream building that was now so familiar. I walked out of that building for the last time as a client of the Eating Disorders Service & into the sunlight, ready to embrace the next exciting chapter of this beautiful lifeinfullcolour 🙂

[C.T. & i celebrated my recovery with my favourite raw, vegan chocolate cake 🙂
We even wore party hats ;)]

To those who have not experienced the devastation of an eating disorder (whether directly, or indirectly), there is little i can say to convey just how heart-wrenchingly painful, & overwhelmingly exhausting the journey to recovery can be. So many times i feared that i would never recover, or in moments of relative stability, found myself thinking that ‘this is as good as it gets’. But as overwhelmingly challenging as this journey has been, it has been equally beautiful. And you know what? My life becomes richer & more beautiful every day 🙂

I often refer to my recovery as a journey of self-discovery. I have learnt so much about myself – my likes, my dislikes, my strengths, my passions, my dreams… I’ve just begun to uncover my potential, & it is far greater than I could ever have imagined. I am vulnerable, yet strong, & more resilient than I know. I am beautiful, passionate, intelligent, creative, magnificent! And I have a courage that roars like an open fire in my heart.

For so many years of my life, I truly & deeply hated who I was, & I didn’t think that could ever change. But you know what? I really do love the person I see now – a magnificent, complex being, full of surprising beauty – & I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life getting to know her better 🙂

I feel such immense gratitude to be here now at this point in my life, & for every beautiful, scary, & painful moment that has led me to it. Sometimes I feel as though my heart might burst with all of the hope & joy & love it holds nowadays. I am grateful to have had these 3 years to heal, & to begin this incredible journey of self discovery, & I am especially grateful for having had access to the treatment I needed to save my life. I feel truly blessed to have been able to work with such an incredible team of people, & i am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped support me on this journey – i would not be here without you.

We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh how we fought, but still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together
Sia, ‘The Fight’

With much love, & gratitude,


Supporting Sofia

“Sofia Benbahmed is engaged in two battles: 1 with an eating disorder, 1 with an insurance company. You have the power to help her win both.”

Last year Sofia Benbahmed entered residential treatment, so she could work on recovering from a 12 year battle with an eating disorder. But entering treatment was a battle in itself – Sofia’s insurance company would not agree to fund the months of treatment advised by the eating disorder specialists that had reviewed her case. But Sofia wants to recover, & decided to undertake a legal battle with her insurance company with the hope that they would agree to fund her care. But legal battles such as these take time, & with a severe eating disorder ravaging her body & mind, time was not something Sofia had a lot of.

So last year Sofia made the brave move of announcing to the world that she had an eating disorder – & that she needed their help.

With the help of friends, family, & many kind-hearted strangers from across the world, Sofia was able to raise the funds to enter residential treatment at eating disorders treatment facility, Monte Nido. As well as engaging in treatment, Sofia has also remained engaged in the battle with her insurance company, & her case is ongoing. With raised funds now running low, & an insurance company still refusing to fund her treatment, Sofia faces the potential of having to leave treatment prematurely, against her treating team’s recommendations for further care.

In her post ‘The Half-Baked Cake’, Carrie Arnold from ED Bites recalls a statement made by the clinical director of the Renfrew Center (for the treatment of eating disorders) in Bethesda:

Normally, you look in a cookbook for how long to bake a cake, and the recipe says to bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Managed care operates under the premises that you can make the cake at 500 degrees for 20 minutes and still have a finished cake. The irony is that often the cake looks done on the outside, but the inside is still completely raw. And if you let the cake sit for any length of time, the uncooked interior causes the whole cake to collapse.

After receiving less than half of the care her doctors recommend, Sophia is now faced with her own “Half-Baked Cake” scenario, & is again appealing for our help.

(Image via: We ♥ it.)

Why should you help Sofia?

Because, she deserves to live. She deserves a lifeinfullcolour, free from the torturous grasp of an eating disorder. And she deserves the chance to fight for that. Yes, Sofia is one of many. No, she is not any more deserving of treatment than any of the other thousands of people struggling with this illness. But she is also no less deserving.

Having lived a dark & tortured life at the hands of my own eating disorder, i know the struggle that Sofia is now facing. But i also know that the fight is worth it – recovery IS possible 🙂

When i first heard of Sofia’s fight, not long before she entered treatment, i was unable to contribute financially to her treatment. I am thankful today however, to be in a position where i am able to make a financial contribution to support her in this fight. Here is the message i left for Sofia, along with my gift:

Darling Sofia,

I believe in you.
You have been in treatment for 3 months already, & i am so proud of you & your determination to keep fighting this illness. It is a long battle, but i have so much faith in you. I know that you can win this war. Of course you may lose a few battles along the way, but i know that you have the courage to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, & keep fighting. Don’t ever give up that fight Sofia, because you are worth fighting for. Keep hope in your heart beautiful girl & know that i hold that hope for you in my own.

Have hope, chase joy, embrace life – recovery IS possible 🙂

If you are able, please consider making a donation to support this woman in her continuing fight for recovery – every little bit helps. If you are unable to make a financial contribution, you can still support Sofia by helping to spread the word – please pass this information on to your friends, family, & colleagues, so they may choose to make a donation if they are able.

To make a donation, please visit Sofia’s new GiveForward page.

Your support & generosity is very much appreciated 🙂

Hope & The Importance Of Recovery Stories

“Recovery is possible.”

I had heard that sentence so many times. But what did it mean?
What was recovery? What did it look like? What did it feel like? How do i get there?
These were all questions i asked myself during the early stages of my recovery.

At first i thought recovery meant stabilising my weight. Then i tried to define my recovery by my ability to follow a meal plan that met my nutritional needs. Yet, even after achieving these things, i still felt lost & confused – i still didn’t feel recovered. And the truth is, 3 years down the track, i still don’t. Recovery is an ongoing process, & there is so much more to it than following a meal plan & stabilising your weight.

I think what made things so confusing for me during that time, was not having any answers to those questions – not knowing what recovery really looked like or how to get there. There were so many stories about what it was like to be sick, so many stories of what it was like to struggle, but i didn’t need to read them – i knew those stories already. I was living them. What i really wanted, was to hear stories of recovery – i wanted answers, i wanted guidance, & i wanted proof; “Recovery is possible.”

It’s hard to have hope, when you can’t see much to hope for. It’s hard to believe that things can change, when the only stories you hear are just echoes of the same familiar struggle.

But i am here to tell you a different story. I am here to tell you that you CAN, absolutely recover. I am here to tell you that recovery is hard, & incredibly exhausting sometimes, but that it also filled with such incredible growth & awareness, fun, laughter, & immeasurable beauty.

“Recovery is possible.” This is one of my deepest, most heart-felt beliefs. And i believe that it is possible for every single person out there – for anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder, for anyone caught up in diet cycle, for anyone experiencing a negative body image, for men, women, & children. I believe that recovery is possible for you.

If you are still navigating your path to recovery, you don’t have to do it alone. If you haven’t already, i really encourage you to connect with A Voice In Recovery, where you can surround yourself with the support of others as they share their own stories of a life in recovery. And remember – you too have a story to tell. Don’t ever be afraid to speak your truth 🙂

The Start Of Something Big

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
~ Thomas Jefferson

While people the world over, will be using January 1st as a kick-start to achieving their resolutions, i’m going to use this day to kick off a reVolution.

I am joining hundreds of others in a revolution that will flood the blogosphere & social networks with Health At Every Size (HAES), body-accepting, & self-loving messages. At a time when diet, “fitness” & other weightloss companies will try to saturate us with negative messages about our bodies & make us false promises, we are fighting back – we are saying “Enough!” to body image bullying. We are taking a stand. And you can too.

Throughout the month of January, i will be exploring & embracing a Health At Every Size (HAES) approach to health.

Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

I will be posting quotes, messages, videos, images, & articles on the lifeinfullcolour Facebook page that inspire body acceptance, self-love, & a HAES, non-dieting approach to health. I will be sharing here at lifeinfullcolour, the steps i am taking to honour my body & my mind, & offering small, achievable challenges to help you explore what it would be like to nourish your own body & mind.

(Image via: We ♥ it.)

Take a stand. If you are tired of diets, if you are tired of the negative, body-bullying messages we are bombarded with, if you are tired of feeling afraid of food, tired of living a life of deprivation & denial, join the revolution! You can be a part of something big.

Help, Hope, & The Holidays

Christmas can be a really joyous time of year, but it can also be a really tough time if you are struggling with an eating disorder.

When i was still very entrenched in my eating disorder, i ate according to a long list of very strict & limiting rules. I would prepare all of my own meals, so that i knew exactly what went into them. I would measure & weigh my food, count calories, & exert any other form of control i could over what went into my mouth. But when Christmas rolled around, it became very difficult for me to follow my eating disorder’s rules.

My eating had become very restrictive, & i was, at that time, only comfortable eating from a very limited & “safe” selection of foods, so when i suddenly found myself surrounded with such a variety of foods, i was left feeling incredibly overwhelmed.
Eating in front of others was also something that i had come to struggle with, so the idea of sitting around a table with my family, made eating these unusual foods an even scarier experience.
I also worried about people’s reactions to my eating behaviour – what would they think if i chose this food? What would they think if i avoided that one? What would they think if i ate this much or that much? What would they think if i tried to stick to my timed meals, rather than the traditional Christmas “grazing”?

The fabulous Kendra over at Voice In Recovery knows too how common these fears & struggles can be during the holiday season, & has come up with some really fabulous suggestions for surviving (& pray – even enjoying!) the festive season, & i really encourage you all to pop on over there & check out her Holiday Recovery Tips.

Julie from Beautiful You has also written some fabulous tips on self-love & self-care during the holidays – go take a peek! 🙂

For those of you whose therapists may be on leave, or who just need a little extra support during the holidays, the lovely ladies from BodyMatters Australasia remind us in their ‘7 Things to do to make it through Christmas‘, that The Butterfly Foundation (1800 334 673) & Lifeline (13 11 14) are available to you throughout the festive season.
BodyMatters is also offering extra holiday counselling through their service (which is also accessible via Skype for those abroad), & encourage you to contact them to make a booking. (Check the website for more details.)

This year, i have much less anxiety around Christmas, & am looking forward to cooking up a delicious vegan nut roast, with a sage & sourdough stuffing, mushroom gravy, & all the trimmings – yum! 🙂

I hope that you are able to find the support you need to make the holidays that little bit easier, & that you too may find some joy in the season. If it all seems too horrible though, just remember, it is but one day & ‘this too shall pass’. Take some time to look after YOU, reach out for support if you need it, & don’t ever lose hope – you WILL get through this, & recovery IS possible.

(Images via: We ♥ it.)