Sunday, January 30, 2011
My name is Riley. I'm a 15 year old boy, and for 10 months now I have been suffering from an eating disorder.
My life has been happy and healthy. I was born healthy and raised happily, my mother died when I was young and I guess I never dealt with it as well as I could have; other than that, things in general are great.
I've had issues with food in the past. I used to suck in my ribs and show everybody my bones when I was younger, and have always had an interest in nutrition and food.
I remember when it really started though. I was at my Nan and Pop's house in another state around March 2010.
One night I was in the shower after dinner. I thought to myself 'What would happen if I was to force my food out so I'm not as full?'
Sure enough, I did it when I got out of the shower. I thought it was gross, and said that I would never do it again.
I came home a couple of weeks later and began to think I was gaining weight. I was about 56kg and 168cm tall, which is in the average to low weight range. I started to obsess over what I ate; I ate healthier things, when I actually was eating, which lead me into not eating breakfast in the morning, not eating lunch at school, and then purging in the shower after dinner.
After a few months of doing the same thing, sometimes eating regular meals and never binging, I began using fiber tablets at school to decrease my appetite, sometimes taking about 5 at once to fill me up. I also drank a lot of water to hydrate me during the day and after purging, consuming about 3 liters a day.
During July 2010, I restricted to 1 babyfood jar a day, which planned to continue for 5 days, but only lasted 3 as I collapsed in my school gym. After going to my Auntie's that night for tea, I had a discussion with my Nanny in the car on the way home. She made me promise that I hadn't been throwing up after I eat, which I refused to do. Worried as a normal grandmother would be, she spoke to my Dad while I was in the shower, purging.
Dad walked in on me that night, and after about an hour of talking, we seeked help from the local GP who then referred us to a place about half an hour away, where we now go every week to every fortnight.
I went for a 2 week program for treatment from the 13th to the 27th of December 2010, which pushed me to my full potential and showed me that there are so many people around who care for me. Although I am doing this all for the people around me, I'm doing it for myself, much like everybody else suffering from an eating disorder.
Not only does it take over lives, it takes everyone else away too.
Since I've been out of treatment, I've slipped back once, and I have a much more positive look on things because of the people I have met in there, and the opportunities I have had to reflect.
The reason I am sharing my story is because I see so many stories on here, and I find so much inspiration.
I just want to put it out to everybody that ANYBODY can suffer from an eating disorder, and ANYBODY can recover from one, too.
Kind regards and have a happy new year.
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I recently received this email from Lane:
"Hello Medusa, I am writing to you with the sad news that an eating disorder has claimed yet another person's life.
Her name was Kylie & she passed on the night of January 2, 2011 of cardiac arrest.
I personally never knew Kylie that well; I met her at Thanksgiving last year when I met my boyfriend's family. I instantly knew she had an eating disorder from talking to her. I'm in recovery myself. She snuck away when it was time to eat. She complained about the cholesterol in the lemon meringue pie. She only ate the smallest amount that she could get away with.
I saw her again on two separate occasions after that; both times I thought about talking to her about it, but I didn't feel I knew her well enough.
She had been sick for eight years, ever since she was 17 & hated her body long before that. She was always round & curvy & hated her shape; at school she envied the popular girls who were all super-skinny. She always wanted to be one of them.
Her mother told me that they'd talk about their larger hips as "the family curse." Her mother thought they were only joking, but Kylie truly did think of it as a curse. She had previously been very close to her family. In the past years she moved into an apartment alone & isolated herself from the world.
I'm told that before her illness took hold of her, she was bubbly despite being shy, that she loved making paper flowers & liked practical jokes.
The causes of her demise were low levels of potassium, sodium & dehydration that caused her already weak heart to fail. Her body had begun to feed on its own muscle, including her heart, to survive. They found blisters on her knuckled from purging.
We reluctantly combed through her personal journal & found out that she had begun inducing vomiting only one month before dying from it.
She wrote that she had never successfully purged before, until early December.
She was 25."
Thank you for sharing, Lane. May Kylie rest in peace.
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ANNALEIGH'S STORY: "ANOREXIA TOOK MY LIFE FROM ME, ALL THE THINGS I COULD HAVE BEEN, COULD HAVE DONE."
Annaleigh, before the illness
Hi, I've been meaning to do this for a while, and I’ve wanted to share my story and I hope one day that all the bad things I’ve been through can help other people.
My name is Annaleigh. I'm from Dorset, UK.
I wish I’d had hindsight before embarking down this terrible road...Anorexia took my life from me, all the things I could have been, could have done. They died because my life became Food, Calories, Weights and Numbers and nothing else.
This is me now, and the picture I am holding is the girl I was before Anorexia took me.
I’m 20 now. I was 16 in that photo. 4 years of anorexia has torn me to pieces. I’ve lost so much. In that picture I seem a happy, healthy, school girl. I even think I look pretty.
Now I’ve become a shell of my former self and I hate what I’ve become. Even though the smile in the picture was fake, I can see the health and the glowing skin in that girl.
I’m currently still in treatment for my eating disorder. I attend a day patient unit now, 9-7 pm. 3 weeks ago I left inpatient treatment at the same hospital and I thoroughly believe it saved my life and has given me the opportunity of recovery. I am so thankful to them.
Pictures of myself over the years:
I developed anorexia at 16, but I was already ill, but no one could see. At 15, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I’m certain this was the trigger that set off my eating disorder.
I was sexually abused from the ages of 13-15 and I suffered mentally on my own. I was self-harming, overdosing, and feeding my pain with food. It was during the abuse the binging and purging started, although I was never diagnosed at this point.
After going to the police, and the abuse ending I decided to stop eating, I decided food was the cause. I thought things would be better if I lost weight. I didn’t know what anorexia was but I thought losing weight was a solution and it would take away my pain.
I started off 5'6 and 14 stone (196 pounds) in April of 07 and by the November that year I had dropped to a mere 5 stone (70 pounds), losing over half my body weight. Nobody was taking action and by that point the first option was a general hospital where I was tube-fed for the first time. I don’t remember much of that stay. I just didn’t understand.
Since then I have been hospitalised on numerous occasions. I’ve had 3 mental health sections from my eating disorder. I’ve been to the depths. I’ve been drugged, held down, force fed and lapsed over and over again.
It’s only on this admission I have seen the light and am actively trying to recover. Sometimes I think u have to go to the depths of hell before u realise that there’s gotta be something better. It may feel absolutely shit to go against the Anorexia but in the end I know now the alternative of going backwards is far worse and now I hope for something more. I've glimpsed there is so much more to life, so much more. I’ve started to see friends enjoy life. My demons from the PTSD still follow me but I know now my eating disorder is not a solution.
Being thin doesn’t make you happy...it numbs the pain for a while. I ran away for a long while into the illness but now it has made life worse and the past harder to deal with.
And I wish I’d had this hindsight before I got ill, because now it is so hard to fight when it’s been my entire life and all I have known for the past 4 years. It took me a long time to get into this mess and its gunna take a long time to get out, but I have hope now to do it. I have so many dreams and aspirations in life....
The rise of Pro-Ana and the rise in eating disorders upsets me. I don’t think people realise how UGLY this disease is, it’s not glamorous.... and at 20 I never I thought I’d be left with arthritis, osteoporosis, no periods, having severe stomach problems.... I feel like a granny even though my nutrition is better!! This life is not beautiful. it's an ugly ugly thing.
A recent photo of me
This is a little poem I look at to remind myself to have hope that it can get better.
Sometimes we walk along a path,
Beneath a cloudy sky
There's nothing to the left or right,
To lift our spirits high,
And then we turn a corner,
And there bursts into view,
A scene of light and beauty,
A world so fresh and new.
So hold this little thought and hope,
Wait for the skies to clear,
For Beyond the dark and stormy clouds,
A sunny day is near....
Thank you for listening.
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"Bryan Bixler is dying. He feels it in his bones a little more each day, as if passing the mirror in his apartment and glancing at himself isn’t evidence enough."
All photos by Mark Boster
[January 30, 2011]
[January 30, 2011]
Many thanks to "C." for this update on Bryan sent to me on December 30th, 2010:
"I don't know if you're aware that Bryan Bixler was back on the Dr. Oz show on Nov. 27 - and he's made astounding progress. It brought tears to my eyes to see how much better he is doing.
Here are the links to watch the show:
"Bryan Bixler suffers from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes him to deprive himself of enough food. He wants to get well, but the treatment Medi-Cal will cover falls short.
By Dana Parsons
6:29 PM PDT, April 2, 2009
"Bryan Bixler is dying.
Bryan Bixler feels he can't escape the truth in the mirror. At 39 years old, 5 foot 9 and 82 pounds, he is growing weaker by the day
He feels it in his bones a little more each day, as if passing the mirror in his Laguna Beach apartment and glancing at himself isn't evidence enough. Here's what greets him: sunken eyes, paper-thin arms and legs that hang like a puppet's, the slow-motion gait that he fears will define his movements for the rest of his days. What happened, he wonders, to that young man who once ran half-marathons?
It's all so crazy. That's what he tells himself. Dying a bit more every day and knowing how to fix it but being unable to do it. Knowing that if he would just start eating like a normal person, he'd give himself a fighting chance.
But he's not a normal person, not anymore. Not at 5 feet 9 and 82 pounds. Not when he's got a master's degree and knows how the body works and yet can't make himself fix spaghetti or drink a chocolate malt.
Bixler is 39 and anorexic, suffering from an eating disorder traditionally associated with young women but which generally has been thought to include a 5% to 10% male component. In recent years, however, some researchers suggest that figure may be approaching 15%.
He doesn't remember a day or week or month that he turned the corner and inexorably headed down the path to anorexia nervosa, but he and family members think it was a slow-moving journey that started in his teens. He remembers those years as a time when his parents went through a difficult divorce and he was simultaneously caught up in the fitness craze and bent on avoiding junk food.
"I was Mr. Healthy," he says. "I was a vegetarian, I wanted to be a runner. Before I knew it, I lost weight without realizing it."
Bixler holds a photo of himself and his sister, Kimberly Leeds, from high school days
As he moved through his 20s, the disorder plunged him into what he calls "the vortex," a swirling downward spiral of weight loss and a deepening inability to reverse course.
But if there was a time back then when Bixler either denied he was anorexic or thought people were overreacting to his looks, those days are gone. "I see when I look in a mirror a walking caricature of a human being," he says. "A skeleton."
But what's different now than, say, even a year or so ago is a new resoluteness. The most primal cause of all.
"I want to live," he says.
To do that, he believes, he needs intensive coordinated treatment at an eating disorder center. Bixler's Medi-Cal insurance would pay for medical help and psychiatric or psychological treatment -- through care providers Kaiser Permanente and the Orange County Health Care Agency -- but not for long-term coordinated treatment at an eating disorder clinic.
The gap between what he needs and what his insurance will cover has been played out around the country. Many insurance companies increasingly have questioned the need for long-term residential treatment programs and balked at paying the high costs for them.
Seven years ago, with his parents footing the bill, Bixler spent several months at a treatment center in Wisconsin. Even though his weight climbed from 92 pounds to 120, he considered it a prison. When his parents' money ran out, he left and immediately relapsed.
Last fall, Bixler returned to the Wisconsin center but stayed only six days. Assigned to a psychiatric unit, he refused treatment, and his parents told him they could no longer afford the bill.
Since then, Bixler insists, he's seen the light and would stay in a long-term treatment program as long as it took. The only other option, he says, is death. "Obviously, my way is not working."
Neither is the limited psychological or psychiatric care he can get through Medi-Cal, says Terry Schwartz, medical director at an eating disorders program at UC San Diego. She supervised a recent psychiatric exam of Bixler, which he requested in the hope that it would bolster a claim he's made with the state for increased Medi-Cal coverage. The claim is pending.
Bixler isn't at an acute stage, Schwartz says, but his laboratory results and weight put him at "high risk" of dying from anorexia. American Psychiatric Assn. guidelines alone, she says, put him in the category of someone who needs either inpatient or residential care.
What he needs is a coordinated program that would run the gamut of medical, psychological, psychiatric, nutritional and dietary treatment. Bixler would be most vulnerable, she says, to sudden cardiac death or an inability to fight off an infection because of his depleted white blood cell count.
While convinced it's nowhere near what he needs, Bixler still avails himself of the counseling services offered through the county and Medi-Cal. If nothing else, he reasons, it'll perhaps send a signal that he's trying to play ball.
On his more charitable days, Bixler tries to avoid recriminations.
"I'm not blaming anybody," he says, "not Kaiser, not the county. I try not to blame myself, because of course I feel like I caused it. For me, it's the anger, the sadness that a life doesn't mean anything unless you have money."
In his 20s, before he fully grasped what was happening to him, Bixler saw a future for himself. With degrees from UC San Diego and the University of Georgia, Bixler wanted to work in the education department of zoos or aquariums. Instead, the eating disorder overtook him, and after short stints at two zoos and teaching while a graduate student, he went on full-time disability nine years ago.
He subsists on Social Security and lives in a studio apartment with a view of the Pacific Ocean, the beneficiary of cheap rent because his parents own the building.
He typically sleeps until late morning and stays up late. His sister, Kimberly Leeds, thinks that's so he can avoid normal social contacts and justify living his life mostly in the night.
Bixler has always been close to his sister, Kimberly
She's the one who pulled his shirt over his head about 15 years ago and made him look at his rib cage. "Look at yourself," she said. "How can you think you're OK?"
Even though she understands the disorder, her brother's eating habits both cause her to marvel and madden her.
"He will not eat any dairy, but he eats frozen yogurt all the time," she says. "He won't eat certain lettuce because it gets caught in his teeth, but he will eat iceberg lettuce. He'll eat popcorn all night long but won't eat roast beef because it sticks in his teeth."
"He will not eat any dairy, but he eats frozen yogurt all the time," she says. "He won't eat certain lettuce because it gets caught in his teeth, but he will eat iceberg lettuce. He'll eat popcorn all night long but won't eat roast beef because it sticks in his teeth."
If they go out to eat, she says, "He can't order something off the menu. There are about five or six statements that have to go along with it." Forget rice or beans, if that comes with the entree. He has to have shredded lettuce and cilantro on the side. He will eat vegetables and protein foods, but carbohydrates are a non-starter, she says.
Leeds may be frustrated, but she hasn't given up on her brother. To the contrary, she's joined him in his fight to get more extensive care.
Their parents, she says, have been dealing with the situation for half of Bryan's life and it is wearying.
"Mother feels like she's done everything. She's mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted," Leeds says. "Her life has been dedicated to him for the last 20 years."
All of which Bixler knows and which makes him sigh.
His father tells him he's not trying hard enough. What's so hard about fixing a bowl of oatmeal and eating it? They have shelled out the money before and might again, but the failing economy has hurt their finances.
"They blame me, their blame reinforces my own self-blame," he says. "I'm my own worst critic. I look in the mirror at night, saying I'm insane. What's wrong with me?"
He knows the answer, of course: a disorder with numerous dark corners that enveloped and then overwhelmed him.
Bixler reads to his nephews, Jeremy and Elliott Leeds, at his sister's home
"I can't understand why I can't do what a 6-year-old can do -- feed myself." "
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Thursday, January 20, 2011
Isabelle Caro (1982-2010)
From the Daily Mail:
"The mother of Isabelle Caro, the anorexic French model who died last year, has committed suicide.
Marie Caro, whose daughter made headlines around the world after a picture of her gaunt naked body appeared in a shocking ad campaign, took her own life earlier this month after being consumed with 'enormous guilt'.
Isabelle died at the age of 28 in a French hospital on November 17 after she was admitted for severe dehydration...."
Read more here:
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ISABELLE CARO: REST IN PEACE, DEAR ISABELLE (1982 - 2010) [UPDATED: ISABELLE'S MOTHER COMMITS SUICIDE]
Isabelle Caro,(September 12, 1982 - November 17, 2010)
Isabelle Caro, close-up from Nolita billboard ad, September, 2007
Oliviero Toscani's Nolita billboard ad featuring Isabelle Caro
(Jan 20, 2011)
Isabelle's mother has committed suicide:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As images of her nude, emaciated body flashed around the world, Isabelle became the poster child and face of anorexia. Oliviero Toscani's billboards featuring her image in Nolita's ad campaign in September 2007 made her instantly famous...not for her brains or beauty but for her deadly illness.
News of her death has been strangely silent. One of my readers, Gloria, emailed a link to me of a video made by French musician, Vincent Bigler, honouring Isabelle. Below his video, he posted this message (translated from French):
"Isabel left us on November 17 this year and it is with great friendship and great respect for her that I publish this video, which I hope will continue to fight against this terrible disease.
Isabelle thank you for your courage and for messages that you have managed to pass and that up there, you enjoy what you love, art, poetry, reading and love of people. Vincent"
On Isabelle's Facebook page, her death was announced. All those who left comments and tributes were stunned by her passing. Below is the announcement:
My deepest condolences go out to Isabelle's family and friends. Her death at such a young age is tragic. My hope is that Isabelle has finally found that peace that eluded her in life.
To read more about Isabelle, please click these links to my previous posts:
February 13, 2009:
ANOREXIA: ISABELLE CARO, STILL STICK THIN...
April 15, 2008:
March 9, 2008:
February 21, 2008:
January 17, 2008:
Gloria, I can't thank you enough for writing me about Isabelle's passing and providing me with links and Facebook screenshots. Your assistance is so appreciated.
Vincent Bigler's video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Puv00o295-Q
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Monday, January 17, 2011
I was diagnosed with Anorexia when I was 11 years. I would not eat and was 4' 8", weighing in at 40 lbs. When I was 15 or 16 years old I had a brief stint with ipecac, even though I never had the massive binges of a Bulimic, but the ipecac almost killed me because that stuff is actually a poison. I would eat half a quart of ice cream and panic, but I could not force myself to puke without something like ipecac. I also did the laxatives for years longer. At 20 I nearly killed myself with an overdose of diet pills. I took them so I would not eat. I spent years weighing myself several times a day, with no remission in symptoms or anorexic behaviours.
At 23, I was 4' 11" 90 lbs, married, and pregnant. BTW, my mother was 4' 11" too by the time she was grown, but has since shrunk and my father was 5' 3". So I didn't stunt my growth. I come from a short family. I'm also proud to say my son was born very healthy, made 9s on the Apgar. Both my sons did, even though there were times as they got older that my thinness scared them. I just would not eat more often than not, but I was off the diet pills, laxatives, etc. After my second time of almost dying, I just went with not eating, living on cappuccinos and alike.
Anyway, yes, I was sexually abused by my father, came from a controlling family background, bad marriage as an adult, divorce, etc etc. I also have the Dx of depression and PTSD. The usual stuff, but I've had a lot of therapy and changed a lot of things in my life, esp. after my first divorce. I took control of my life without relying on any crutches (like counting calories, weighing) or anything else. I put the numbers aside, basically taking everything I was taught in therapy and alike and putting it into practice. Doing it myself, instead of someone else doing it for me. I also successfully raised two sons by myself, without help from their father. So I had a lot to giving me the drive to live and survive too.
I am now 44 years old and I woke up, maybe three or four years ago (around 40 y.o.), one day and realized I had not weighed myself in ages, without panicking due to not knowing. I was tempted, but didn't weigh. I went in for a physical, weighed in at 100 lbs (still 4' 11"), my blood work was normal (something it had not been in years)- cholesterol normal, b.p. low normal, but normal, all the numbers were in normal range. My doctor said, "You look good. How are you doing it?" I just am. I really don't know how I did it, but it wasn't Holy Unction, prayer, divine intervention or anything like that. I did it myself.
I took control of my life, refusing to let anyone else do it for me. I have control over everything concerning my body and life, including what I eat or not eat. I eat chocolate. I still carry the Dx of depression and PTSD, but my eating disorder isn't as much of a concern to my physician. I still have moments where I look in the mirror and feel like I look fat, sometimes I even "feel fat", but it isn't a constant thing and I have control- not the eating disorder, the depression, or even another human. I eat almost everything except meat (lifelong [lactose] vegetarian). I drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt, nuts, beans, rice, the typical vegetarian diet, with sweets occasionally. I eat like a normal human being.
I'll be 45 y.o. in May with two grown sons and no, the pictures on your website did not trigger anything in me, except sadness and empathy for these women. They don't have to die though. They can live normal, fulfilling lives, but they have to work at getting better. It doesn't happen overnight, there are some ups and downs, but I really believe the key is taking control of your own life, every aspect of it, thinking for yourself, and making choices for yourself. Of course, the first step is overcoming the fear of food and getting fat, but it can be done. For the last few years, I've been between 95 and 105 lbs at every dr.'s visit.
So people can recover from Anorexia. It is possible, but I think it also depends on the type of eating disorder they have. I think mine was related to the depression, PTSD, etc and actually not the typical eating disorder. Once my depression was alleviated and the PTSD well on its way to being treated, I think my eating disorder naturally followed. However, it doesn't matter how long one has suffered with it, I truly believe once they gain the desire to overcome it and take charge, they can do it, but they have to get serious about therapy, medication, if necessary, treatment, and putting it into practice.
Anyway, that's my story, albeit condensed, and I want to thank you for making a website that shows the horrors, even deadly horrors of eating disorders. I only hope it helps someone and not causes more problems.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
At three still innocent and not tainted.
My name is Emma. I'm 30 years old from Christchurch, New Zealand.
I have had anorexia, bulimia and serious self harm since I was 11 years old 19 horrible years.
I can never remember ever being happy. I grew up with a very abusive father and an extremely sick mother in and out of hospital. I also have an older brother who was a bully and treated me like a slave.
With my mum being so sick I had to run the household from a young age. Also, my father had very high expectations of me to succeed in everything: school, music and sport. I would get up at 5am and not stop until bed at 9.30.
I developed very early, being flung into puberty age 9. Primary school was good. I was popular, extremely bright. My teachers loved me.
But the summer between primary and intermediate something changed. I became the kid everyone picked on, for being bright and ugly, though only 11, I suffered from terrible painful acne and had big breasts and hips. I was sent to the deputy principal for him to teach me alternative subjects. He sexually abused me for those two years. It was then, at 11, I began cutting. I had no idea what I was doing it just felt good.
Also, I began skipping breakfast and throwing away my lunch. If I couldn't be pretty I wanted to be skinny (although I was 5'4" and 102lbs) and I hoped I would lose my breasts, which in my mind caused the sexual abuse. I did tell my parents about the abuse but my dad told me to "stop fucking lying, you'll wreck that man’s life." At this age I started viciously hating myself, wrote my parents off.
By 13, my extracurricular activities were: Hockey (4 teams), athletics, cross country, cricket, volleyball, touch rugby, flute, choir, orchestra. So I was doing 5-7 hours of exercise.
By age 14, I was cutting daily. My anorexia fueled up. I added 2 hours of running before school; faked breakfast by shaking toast crumbs onto a plate. I gave my lunch to girls in my class. My PE teacher caught on when she found me passed out in the changing rooms. Soon I was fainting on a regular basis. I was sent to guidance; they set up a hospital admission for me as my weight dropped to 76lbs and my cutting was no longer secret. But my parents refused consent as they considered themselves perfect and I was not going to ruin their reputation. They said I was anorexic and self harming to make them look bad.
At 16 I agreed to go to the youth section of the psych hospital. By then I was abusing laxatives and diet pills, and my cuts constantly needed stitching. But once again my parents decided imprisonment at home was a better option. I was tormented and overdosed on sleeping pills and anti depressants had my first of 100s of public- medical hospital admissions. My heart was affected.
At the same time somehow I was a hockey and athletics rep and A student.
At 17, my last year of high school, I was so depressed, all I could focus on was self harm and my ED which had evolved to bulimia. I would cut class to binge and purge then cut and burn. I had begun to experiment with burning myself with acid.
At 18, I ran away to another city where I spiraled out of control. I inflicted third-degree burns that needed grafting; took massive overdoses. The first I woke from a coma in intensive care with a tube down my throat. I was committed to the psych hospital and all year I was either in intensive care or in the psych hospital. I was transferred to a private hospital that specialised in eating disorders and Borderline (diagnosed at 15). I hated it and was there for a year.
After 2 1/2 years in hospital I was sent home to my parents, seen as a failure soon to die.
Now 21, I fell into a bad crowd and was back to anorexia. 88 lbs, I spent 4 hours at the gym then spent the rest of my time drinking and smoking weed. I was raped three times. Then one night I was involved in arson. I was sentenced to 2 1/2 years prison. I served 7 months.
Trying to cut this short, since then I have been in and out of the medical and psych hospitals. Anorexia, Bulimia, self harm and suicide is all my mind could contain. I should have been dead at least 50 times over. Doctors have told me I should be dead, they wish I was dead, and I was a waste of time, space and money.
At 30, sitting here, I am scarred completely, both arms and legs. I've had 24 skin grafts, I have severed many tendons, I have faced amputation 4 times. I cannot have anymore surgery as my left arm is all scar tissue inside and out; it is weak and doesn’t function well. I have had bone and vessels and muscle cut out of my leg and arm due to being burnt. I have brain damage, as I have had 7 cardiac arrests and 3 respiratory arrests. My heart is damaged; it could stop at anytime. Bulimia has robbed me of my bowel: 3 years ago it stopped working. The pain was horrific. They operated; my bowel is black and decayed all due to my 100-a-day laxative addiction. I have capped teeth.
I have been told I'm one of the worst cases of self harm in the world by my British psychologist and American psychiatrist.
My arm after surgery after I’d severed 3 tendons.
My leg after more grafting.
I feel like I have just been regurgitating facts and I'm not baring my emotion. My life has been wasted. I started self harming to cope. I thought I controlled it...I could stop when I wanted to...same with ED, but it's just not true.
I live an isolated life, I have been banned from hospitals. They've had enough. I have tried, I really have, but what’s the point when no one cares and no one will ever love me because I'm deformed.
All I ever wanted was love. I just don't know how to 'get a life.' I don't know how to make friends. I hate justifying my existence.
I should have a job like a normal person, but I’m so tired from all the meds and the depression, the hopelessness. Currently, I weigh 108lbs. I've started restricting and purging again. I wish my parents had just bought a trophy and not conceived me. I was discharged from mental health two months ago deemed ‘incurable’.
A pic of my tattoo of mental health awareness ribbon.
Since I feel I have been relatively emotionless, I have added a couple of my poems from a book I had published this year:
Drains of colour
Black mourning in my eyes
Too many times
I’ve stared death in the eye
I could feel his cold
Stagnant breath on my cheeks
His skeletal fingers
Fingering my lank thinning hair
Ana, he calls
I’ve come to pick your bones
Don’t fill me
With false prophecies
I want to lie
Free of parasitic guilt
Free of self consuming hate
Nothing to feel
Through my body
An unanswered cry
In an empty room
Impartial I lie
Unturned and empty.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
(Click to enlarge)
LICENSED FAMILY THERAPIST, TARA FIELDS,
(AS SEEN ON “OPRAH,” “DR. PHIL” AND “CNN”)
WANTS TO HELP YOUR FAMILY!
Is your family in crises struggling with addictions, eating disorders,
obesity, infidelity, control issues, marital problems, bullying, blended family stress, toxic in-laws, job loss, depression, anger management or any other issues that you need help with?
Are you desperate for help but don’t know where to turn?
Licensed Family Therapist, Dr. Tara Fields can help!!!
World-renowned family therapist, Tara Fields has made a difference on “Hoarders” and “Intervention” but now YOUR FAMILY can have the chance to work one-on-one with her! This exciting new one-hour unscripted TV series will delve into the lives of families in crisis. Tara Fields will work with families to uncover what their real issues are and then help them to overcome them, making the families whole again.
If you - or anyone you know - are in need of help and live in the Los Angeles area, contact us today! Families who appear on the show will receive free family therapy and a financial honorarium as a thank-you for their time commitment. We also offer a referral fee if you refer a family who appears on the show!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Casting Associate Producer
*Please be sure to include a description of your family and the issues you’re dealing with, along with a recent photo. Couples must have children over the age of 10 and be open to discuss and work through their challenges on camera.
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Monday, January 10, 2011
The majority of my memories from childhood are happy and carefree... They're bright and vibrant - just as any child's should be...
But every now and then a flicker of darkness and confusion appears - and I remember when the evil illness began to take it's grip.
A glance of disgust when looking in the mirror "My bum is SO big!"
A proud and defiant "No, Thank You" when turning down a piece of cake
A quick trip behind the lucky bean tree to throw up my lunch
A whole roll of ultra thick cello-tape bound around my hips and thighs "That's better!"
I was just 8 years old when bulimia entered into my life... At first it came and went... Like a nasty niggling voice - telling me I had to be better, I had to be more... I was not quite enough.
Trauma and Bulimia
At the age of 15 my family and I were forced to leave our homeland - Zimbabwe. The political situation made it unsafe for us to live there anymore... My parents decided to give up all they had ever worked for to give us - their children - a safe future.
Leaving my home was terrifying. But I had no choice. I packed my bags and said goodbye to the only life I had ever known. I boarded the plane and left for New Zealand.
This major life change caused my eating disorders to take an evil turn...
I began to restrict my calories during the week to just 400 a day. I was also doing 4 hours physical exercise each day - as I was in the national springboard diving team. No food and huge amounts of exercise meant I was starving - and by the time the weekend came I was ravenous...
On the weekend I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted - as long as I threw it up. I'd fill myself to the point of bursting with chocolates, biscuits, bread, pizza and candy... Then I'd escape to the bathroom (or the shower, or the bushes, or the Tupperware under my bed!) and throw it all up. Id do this over and over again - throughout the weekend... Because I knew - come Monday - I'd allow myself sweet buggar all.
Over the years this routine gradually changed... But not for the better... My weekend binges started creeping into the evenings of each day... And eventually, into every day of the week.
I had become a compulsive eater - and these years were the most difficult of them all.
Food, food and more food...
I ate when I was scared.
I ate when I was sad.
I ate when I was angry.
I ate when I was happy.
I ate when I was bored.
I pretty much ate all the time...
And I threw up whenever I felt guilty and disgusting... Which was all the time too.
In my compulsive eating years - I turned into a machine - void of life - carrying out the motions of bulimia.
I hated what I was doing... And, I knew it was killing me... I wanted to stop - but for over 1/2 my life I'd lived this way - and I had no idea how to change.
My Commitment to Recovery
I knew that bulimia could kill me... I had awful images of my mom finding me - dead from a heart attack - lying in a puddle of my own puke... I knew this was a reality as long as I continued on the destructive path of self hatred and abuse...
At the age of 20, I made my first true commitment to bulimia recovery - I booked a session with a therapist - her name was Amanda. Talking to Amanda would be the first time in my life that I had ever opened up about my bulimia... It was terrifying...
But after my appointment - I felt amazing... Finally, I had done something positive for my health... Finally, I could see a light at the end of the dark tunnel of bulimia.
Was I miraculously cured from one session? No. Unfortunately it wasn't that easy...
It took me one year of weekly sessions with Amanda before I finally felt confident to say I was completely free from bulimia. But... One year was nothing when you consider I'd spend 10 years with my head down the toilet!
I still remember my first completely binge/purge free day... I went to bed with the most massive grin on my face... I even high-fived myself! I was over the moon... I'd had my first taste of a bulimia-free life - and I loved it. I was craving more.
And guess what... That day was the first of many more. In fact - I never looked back... 5 years on - I am still bulimia free.
I never imagined that a life so full of happiness was possible...
A life so full of acceptance...
A life so uncomplicated... so simple.
I especially never imagined that this type of life was possible for me...
But - It is possible - and I have this life now!
And guess what... You can have it too! I truly believe that if I recovered from bulimia - then anyone can. You just need to turn to face the direction of health and happiness - and keep taking baby steps until you get there.
Beating bulimia isn't about just ending the binges and purges... It's about healing from the inside out... Healing your self image, healing your self respect and learning to love yourself again. With this process you'll learn how to heal your addiction to food and end your bulimia once and for all. Karen Phillips covers this brilliantly in her book "Mom, Please Help: Anorexia and Bulimia Positive Energy Treatment". To read my review of this bulimia self help program, click here:
I hope that my bulimia story helps you realize that complete 100% recovery from bulimia is possible... You can have the life of your dreams... I promise you can!
Stay strong - and remember to be kind to yourself!
All the love,
P.S. For helpful recovery tips, bulimia stories and support, feel free to visit my website:
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“Like many others, I don’t know why I’m writing this. Maybe because I want someone to read, someone to know and understand what I did throughout my life. Why I did it and to help encourage people to get help, the help they need and deserve. This is going to be long, maybe not as long as I thought but long enough. And I’ll apologize for that, because I know you get sent lots of things. I love your blog and it has inspired me to give you mine as well.
My name is Val, I’m 21 years old and I love reading about other people. I love reading in general. I was never diagnosed with depression or bipolar but I know something is wrong. Especially when you want nothing more than to waste away and die. My story is not as heart wrenching as many... tragic enough, none the less
First of all, I’d like to say I am so heartbroken for everyone out there with a mental illness. I myself do not suffer from anorexia or bulimia, maybe I am starting there because I’m starting to poke at my fat, and I know I’m fat. I’m supposed to be 120 lbs but I am 147. I LOVE food. But I could never ever bring myself to purge it back up or to starve... simply because I grew up with a father that cooked great and ate even better. We were taught not to care too much about what others say or call you. But it’s hard... it’s so so hard when you do not like what you look at in the mirror.
I wish everyone the best, for treatment and recovery.
My sister started beating me when I was a child, maybe because she was mad that mom left us, maybe she thought it was her fault. No matter what it was, her anger always ALWAYS went towards me. She called me fat when I ate, so I started eating by myself and over eating at night.....I was up to 160 (I was almost more than my father) but I found comfort in food, it didn’t call me names, it didn’t make me hurt. It made me feel good and feel full. Whereas, I felt empty. 24/7. Forget about feeling lonely, because I thought I was better off alone. I never ever felt lonely.
The abuse had a lot to do with everything. Not to mention I felt extremely abandoned by my mother who left when I was just a year old. I tried putting my stepmother (god bless her beautiful soul) in her shoes and called her mother but she wouldn’t let me because "you only have one mother" please too, everyone, please please remember that. My mother was a manic depressant, she suffered from bipolar. Maybe because of the alcoholism, maybe... just maybe, the coke she could not let go of.
I always hated drugs, cigarettes and even alcohol. Simply because I watched everyone throw their lives away for it. My uncle who is dying because he couldn’t stop drinking...rather, he didn’t want to. It took his wife and 3 of his kids to leave. And now he’s stopped, he’s still dying. I couldn’t do that to myself, I have animals... beautiful nieces and nephews. And that’s the only thing that keeps me from blowing my head in on the wall behind me.
Until I turned 12..... I started smoking cigarettes. Then alcohol (god I loved that so much) I still smoke to this day (9 years) 13 came around, I really disliked my mother. Mainly because she left me, I felt like she didn’t want me. That she wanted the drugs, the booze more. I needed something.... I didn’t realize this at such an age, but I did, I wanted to get away from it all. I drank a whole bottle of Bacardi gold that night, was falling all over the place... but I loved the feeling. I really liked getting drunk.
14 came, virginity gone. I didn’t realize how wrong it felt until he got on me, and personally, it hurt, it felt wrong. He left me after abandonment. Another love lost...marijuana. That made me happy, like... ahh, I'm out of my right mind. That’s all I wanted, that’s it, to be out of my right mind. To be numb to all the pain... I still do. When I was 15, I was drinking heavily, eating too much and smoking waaay too much. Mainly alcohol, mainly.... until my mother hung herself a few days shy of her 40th birthday.
What a suckin year! By this time, I was taking ecstasy, oxycontin, alcohol, happy pills, pain pills. God I partied so hard, I loved it. I didn’t pay nothing because my friend was 'with' the dealer so he gave me some too, on request of my friend, his friend whatever. Drugs, all the E I wanted, was right in front of me, like a dispenser, waiting to be sniffed... just waiting, to be put up my nose so I could once again be out of my right mind.
My dad didn’t know what was going on. He thought I was just going over to see my sisters and nephew. But it wasn’t, had nothing to do with that. I wanted to get all sorts of messed up, all sorts... and so I did.
Until almost a year later, I realized what it was doing to my body. One day I could not get any, due to the guy finally got caught and jailed. I was shaking, sweating, paranoid... my body hurt. I wouldn’t eat, I was not hungry. All I wanted was another E pill. So I took my sisters oxycontin and sniffed 3-5 80's that night. Really, the first didn’t do anything, so I did another and another... up my nose they went.
All this time I was juggling this and stress at home, without a woman around and dad working, he needed someone to take care of the animals, turn on the pellet stove, clean, cook etc. I was watching my sister waste away. She was not eating, it took me a while to understand why she thought she was fat and how she got down to 86 pounds (can anyone tell me how? I think I know but I don’t want to believe that my sister had that kind of problem). This sister isn’t the one that beat me, she used to fight with the one that did. She was my saviour and it hurt me so so much to watch her be like that. She got into drugs too and to this day she still struggles with drug addiction.
I reached my 16th birthday and discovered cutting... it was like art to me, watching blood spatter and make a mess, and yes, I liked cleaning my own blood up too. I still struggle with this, as I love to inflict pain on myself. Even a split in my lip,I’ll split it again after just to feel it crack back open. To taste that blood is to taste the warm part of me. Because my heart is blocked by stone, and is very very cold.
Medusa, I am happy to tell you that I no longer struggle with drugs, but depression is an everyday struggle. I don’t want to take pills because I’m REALLY scared it will make it worse. And to the point where I won’t even care if others care if I do die. I don’t believe mine is as deep as others, as I could not bring myself to off myself. I couldn’t do that to my father. I want to die... trust me, I do but I remind myself of my dad, the only parent I have left. My cats (all 3 of them) and my dog. My nieces and nephews that need me. my brothers and sister (that seems to be dying in front of me and claims she’s not on it any more)
Mostly why I am writing this is because I need people to know you can’t let something go and expect it to get better. Mental illnesses do not go away, they get worse. That nagging voice will never shut up unless you make it. Get help... and please, if you think of dying, think of all the people and even your animals that love and need you. Even though our parents are plain rotten sometimes, they should be talked to too. And brought to a conscious level that something is wrong with their child.
Happy holidays every one, God bless everyone’s soul, I really really really wish you the best.
With best and warm regards
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
"Me, fours years after the photo below...15 pounds heavier and still thinking I was grotesque..."
"Where to begin...sometimes I feel too old or too adult to be going through something like this...not to say that any other girl or woman going through this is not "adult" it was just a lack of a better word...
I am currently 29, a married happy woman with THE MOST beautiful precious 8 month boy in the whole entire world! I am so so proud of him. He is the one thing that really ever keeps me grounded. Even as I type this I am sitting here watching him play...watching his smiles...listening to his laughs...seeing his innocence...and I really hope he is never touched by the cruelties of this world, at least at such a young age as I was....
In first grade I was the typical little girl...even cute really. But I was REALLY tall, so I could always carry more weight. And not to sound cliche, but I am big boned also so I could always carry a bit more weight and still look great and healthy. But one day when my grandmother dropped me off at school, she saw all the "little" girls and said, "Don't you want to be small like them? You are so big and chubby. Why not be sweet like them?" It always stuck with me...and then on I started to gain weight. (I also had another abusive issue that I choose not to share...but looking back it could have prompted some issues I never did choose to address.) Since then I was always overweight throughout grade school and high school. My father certainly never made the issues better...nor the need for me to wear black...dye my hair....and wear the blackest makeup possible!
I do not know what to call myself at times. Sometimes I am "ana," sometimes I am "mia"...and mind you, these terms are so fresh to me. I only discovered the world of "ana" and "mia" a year ago...literally...at least discovering the Internet sensation of EDs. This was when I was 4 months pregnant (and really was sickened by what so many poor girls put themselves through).
When I had my ED there was never any talk of it...never any notion that this was a big problem in our world. I discovered it my senior year of high school in Psychology class. We had a chapter that discussed EDs and it opened my eyes...in a bad way though...like wow...could this work for me?
If I only knew how this disease captures you and keeps you bound to it always. I still remember back to that day in class and thinking "I should try this!" I never binged...I only ate normally...felt so fat and full and threw that up. Why is there very little talk about that? Just a normal meal...maybe even less than what a normal person would eat...but have to purge it as soon as possible. I had a bout with ana too, but it was more so going about my daily life as a normal person would and just having to purge every time...and that was what I did....
In barely a year I went from 280lbs to 140lbs...I lost completely half of myself...like a whole person...and I am 5'9' so really 140 was quite healthy for me. Being heavy almost all my life the attention was wonderful but I never saw "me" at the time...just who I WAS...and no matter all the compliments...I was not happy...but so many people said I looked so thin..so small...so unhealthy....
And I met my (future) husband, and he came from a relationship with a girl who was ana, so I said I would stop, keep myself healthy. I ate well, I worked out, I danced...everything to keep active...and I stayed thin for years and years. I look back on those years and I am dumbfounded!!! In those years of my life I always said, "I am so fat. I am so huge!!" But looking back now, I was so thin, so pretty. I want to find this girl again!
I maintained my weight for years and years. I did gain about 20-25 more pounds before what I call was my "big demise"...but I still looked great...and had my natural beauty to go on....not to toot my own horn! But you never realize how striking and beautiful you are until you are not that anymore....so I did a little "ana" and a little "mia" through out those years...but I kept it at bay..only a few times a week and even less..
I thought I was cured...I was fine...I did not need it anymore. I even spoke to my husband about it a few years before we were married. I told him everything I went through...everything I really thought of myself (cos he got so sick of hearing, "How does this look?" "Do I look fat?" "Did I eat too much. That wasn't bad, right??")
But somehow over those latter years I let myself slip a little. I was heavier than what I wanted when I married.. I hated all my wedding pictures, but I look back NOW and see how gorgeous I was, And our first half a year of marriage was bad for me...bad on myself...feeling awful...feeling fat...even drinking some...and "mia" came back.
My husband caught me a few times. At first I blamed it on drinking, but then he caught me in the actual moment and I was stone cold sober. It was the worst moment in my life because he thought I was fine. I told him I would stop...but I didn't. I had to be more careful, hide it more than what I already did. To this day he is the only one that knows...and now whoever reads this here.
So I was at rock bottom when I found out I was pregnant. I was feeling nausea and threw up after eating because of the "mia" and even throwing up the few times I drank then. And I was even discovered by mom and sister and said I was "sick." They laughed and said, "No! I bet you're preggos!!" Sure enough I was.
I was heavier than I wanted. I was more mentally screwed up than what I wanted to be, and here I was pregnant....and it was the ABSOLUTE best time of my life! I was so so healthy..."ana" and "mia" disappeared...they were gone...NEVER EVER even a thought. And I worked out great...ate great. I even lost weight the first few months and my son was as healthy as could be! I was so happy and optimistic that I would get back to my former self....and I DID!!
"Me at my lowest weight 138...and still thinking I was fat..."
For three months after my son's birth I was perfect....lost all the baby weight (only 27 lbs...right after I had him actually) and then 10lbs. I was on the right track. Then when my poor baby was barely 3 months old we were in a bad car accident. Thank God he was fine. I cried and screamed and said "Let him be fine...give me it all...any health problems...just let him be fine!"
And that was what I got. It started slowly but I gained weight (and even lost my breast milk...no be to gross to you young girls..). To cut a LONG story short, I am currently 20lbs heavier than what I was pregnant. And now I have rediscovered the would of "mia" and "ana." I never wanted to...but I have.
I have so many many joys (my son's first Christmas!) and so many priorities but this is taking priority right now and it is driving me insane to be back here. I thought I was OK. I thought I was going to be even better. And now...now it's back to how I was ten years ago...back to trying to be well. But even the most healthiest of salads I still want to get rid of it...and I do....and I just do not know where to go from here.
Even the mia does not work like it once did. I had tests on my sugar levels...thyroid...etc. And it all came back normal..I am just stuck in this deep dark hole right now. But I have my ray of sunshine...and I have everything to be happy for...and I cannot. I am just eaten up by "ana" and "mia" again.
Long LONG story short...do not let "ana" or "mia" into your life. They will never ever leave. Now I am left trying to pick up the pieces again and find my "old" body. And I laugh...cos I thought I was so soo SOOOO fat then!"
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