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

Posts tagged ‘trauma’

You Are Here For A Reason.

Warning:
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) 😉

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Learning To Trust My Body – And Myself

Warning:
Parts of this post may be distressing to survivors of sexual abuse.
If you need support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017 .
May also be triggering to those suffering with, or in recovery from an eating disorder.
In you need support, you can find a list of services in you state on The Butterfly Foundation website, or call them on 1800 33 4673.

Eating disorders are incredibly complex, multi-dimensional illnesses. Many things have been linked as contributing factors in the susceptibility to, development of, & maintenance of eating disorders, including biological & genetic factors, psychological, emotional, & cultural factors, & the research is ongoing.

Despite having suffered an eating disorder myself, & having gained some incredible insight during treatment, i still do not fully understand the complexities of my own illness. But that is not to say that i do not understand it at all, & indeed, i have much insight into many of the factors that influenced the development & maintenance of my eating disorder.

One of these things, i found, was an incredible lack of trust.

This realisation came, when i began exploring intuitive eating with my dietitian early on this year. Although quite flexible in terms of food choices, i had spent the few months prior following a very structured meal plan – making sure i was eating at regular intervals throughout the day, making sure i was covering all of my food groups… I was feeling quite comfortable with it – it had become quite manageable – but it was beginning to feel quite rigid at the same time.

When i started treatment, it was all about meal planning, covering my food groups, getting enough calories….i thought that if i could accomplish these things, if i could follow these “rules”, that i would have achieved “normal” eating. But then, it dawned on me – at this point in my recovery, i had simply replaced one set of rules with another. Sure, i wasn’t using rules to starve myself anymore, but i wasn’t eating with spontaneity & freedom either. I looked at the people around me, people without eating disorders, people i saw as having “normal” eating patterns, & i realised that not a single one of them was following a structured meal plan like i had been. I had made a lot of progress, but i wasn’t quite there yet.

At first, intuitive eating was an exciting adventure – i loved the idea of truly connecting with body, & trusting it to tell me what it needed (or didn’t). I was excited by the idea of being able to make food choices based on hunger, & my desire for certain foods. I loved the thought of being able to say no, as well as yes, & eating with freedom & spontaneity. Intuitive eating was a concept that i had believed quite passionately in for quite a while, & i was excited by the possibility of a new & forgiving relationship with my body & with food.

It wasn’t long though, before the true difficulty of this exercise hit me – & hit me HARD.

Earlier this year, Melinda Tankard Reist published a piece on her blog, where i described my experience of sexual abuse, & resulting criminal trial for which i was a witness. While i do not believe in any way, that this abuse was the sole reason for the development of my eating disorder, it was this experience which left me with a complete & utter disgust for my body, & a need to be entirely disconnected from it in order to survive.

As soon as my second week of eating intuitively, i was overwhelmed with panic & fear – ‘I don’t want to “connect” with my body!’ I didn’t know exactly what it was that was lurking behind my fear, but i knew that if anyone threw the words “body” & “connect” together in the same sentence, it would terrify me. My panic soon gave way to anger – a deep seething anger, that i was, up until this point, oblivious to. I felt betrayed by my body – it had reacted to my abuse in ways that were abhorrent to me, & despite understanding the biology behind these reactions, i still carried a lot of shame. A shame which i blamed wholly & solely on my own body.

Thinking back on it now, while i recognise that a lot of my reasons for starving myself, were about disconnection – from my body, from my emotions – there was also an element of rebellion to it. I was angry, & i directed that anger at my body’s perceived betrayal – it told me it was hungry, & starvation was my way of saying “f*ck you”. Denying my body it’s needs made me feel strong. In control. But that need to manipulate & control my body, was a dangerous one to implement.

Now, a year into my intuitive eating journey, with a good deal of therapy, & a lot of painful & confronting (but equally exciting & beautiful) self-exploration, i am happy to say that i have found that new & forgiving relationship with my body & with food. Everyday my connection to my body becomes deeper, more respectful & more loving, & the freedom & spontaneity i experience around food now, is greater than i ever imagined.

I once found myself pondering whether or not my body was a reliable judge of what it needed – was I a reliable judge of what I needed? When i shared these fears with my dietitian, she responded with a ‘YES! Definitely!’. I will always remember that moment as the moment i was given the reassurance & permission i needed to trust in myself again. It is a trust that has filtered down through all aspects of my life experience – not just those which relate to food & eating. And really, that should come as no surprise – after all, eating disorders are about so much more than food.