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I got caught in an ocean current on the weekend and it got me thinking how quickly we can go from being in control (“I’m okay”) to being out of control (“I’m in danger”). The slide from disordered or unhealthy (even sub-optimal) eating patterns and behaviours into a full blown eating disorder can happen quickly. What are the warning signs and do you know how close you are to the ‘edge’? Here’s some thoughts for you. Love to hear from you if you have feedback, questions or concerns. michelle@michellesparkes.com

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Paralysing fear. Feeling stuck and terrified. Afraid to make a “wrong” decision; afraid to make any decision. Acute anxiety is a major feature of anorexia and something most of us will relate to in some measure. Even when you’re recovered from anorexia (as I am), there are times when situations trigger that old emotional response. So what can we do when we experience paralysing fear? Here are a few thoughts. I welcome your feedback, questions or comments. Contact me here www.michellesparkes.com/support

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Paralysing fear. Feeling stuck and terrified. Afraid to make a “wrong” decision; afraid to make any decision. Acute anxiety is a major feature of anorexia and something most of us will relate to in some measure. Even when you’re recovered from anorexia (as I am), there are times when situations trigger that old emotional response. So what can we do when we experience paralysing fear? Here are a few thoughts. I welcome your feedback, questions or comments. Contact me here www.michellesparkes.com/support

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" I binge a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to die from how I abuse my body with food. I hate the way I eat. I have a bad relationship with food."  Elizabeth


I hear you Elizabeth. I’m so sorry. It’s a truly AWFUL place to be. I’ve just looked back at that time in my life (late teens) and can confirm I had very similar feelings. I couldn’t believe I didn’t burst or die. Part of me wanted to do both. I hated myself so much. My binges reflected both a desperate hunger to feel okay about myself and extreme self-punishment for not being the person I thought I needed to be. I went from the image on right to the image on left in around two years...

Age 15 - during the period of my hospital admission

Age 17 - two years following my hospital admission *This was in the late 70s, early 80's - an era when there was little light, understanding or support for me & my family post hospital .I'm confident if I  I had the knowledge and skills then that I have today I could have traveled a less extreme path.. It's the reason I do the work  I do today.

 I’m sorry to hear you are in this place. It truly is a living hell. Let me encourage you, there is a way through and forward…it’s not easy and it will take determination and effort but I believe you can get there. You just need the right information, skills and support. Most importantly you need to hear (again and again) that you deserve LIFE and nurture and good things. You really do. Below is an excerpt (from my book Illuminating Anorexia) describing what was happening for me through that period and how I understand it now as a recovered person. I hope it helps you feel less alone and that it shines some light on your current situation and options. It’s a copy of a copy so the quality is not great. If you want the original ebook or paperback you can find it here.

Don’t lose hope Elizabeth. There is a way forward. If you want my help get in touch...

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When we are locked in the self hatred of the eating disorder ‘cage’ we need to experience ourselves as seen, known, understood, worthwhile, valuable, loved. Even when and especially in the midst of our most acute struggles. For me the heart of the Christmas message is about this. The sound quality of this audio is poor and I apologise for that but I believe someone out there needs to hear this message of hope today. Big hugs to you. 

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When it comes to communicating around a difficult situation or personal challenge I find the following piece of wisdom most helpful:

“He who seeks good finds goodwill (favour)” Proverbs 11:29

Attitude is everything. When we approach a difficult communication situation with the attitude that we are “seeking good” – to understand the other, to communicate with respect, to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, to find a good way forward for both parties – we will find “goodwill” or  favour.

Here are 7 simple principals and strategies that expand on this one key idea:

  1. Seek to understand the other.
  2. Ask open questions – can you tell me what’s going on for you?
  3. Listen, re-state (what you’ve heard, is it what was intended), respond
  4. Use “I” language – don’t blame the other, take responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts and behaviours – when X happened, I felt Y, I would prefer Z – can we talk about this
  5. Stay open but guard your heart if the other is unable to take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and behaviours
  6. Remember we are all a work in progress – we all carry within us a world and history that is complex, layered and unseen but we share similar fears, desires and needs
  7. Treat each other with respect – the way you yourself would like to be treated.

The ‘golden rule’ (seek good; treat each other with respect) never goes out of fashion.

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What do you say to two brave women now both in their 40s, struggling to stay ‘well enough’ to stay out of hospital after a long journey with anorexia, both traumatised by previous hospital admissions and struggling to know who to trust and where to turn. This is my response. I welcome your feedback and questions, and, as mentioned in the podcast, here are the links to the resources promised:

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In response to one listeners request for help “not to revert back to old bad habits” and to learn to eat when hungry, here are some thoughts.

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I recently asked people what their greatest challenge or concern was when it came to their struggle in the ED/DE landscape. One respondent asked how to combat her fear of gaining weight when she “knew she must.” It got me thinking about the importance of compassion.

If you are scared of gaining weight but know you need to the following two podcasts will help you move forward:

Coping with weight gain 1 

Coping with weight gain 2

But beyond this, a word on COMPASSION. When we experience understanding and genuine compassion from others we become more SELF-compassionate and this helps shift our motivation from what [this person described as] needing harsh “force” to change, to accepting a kinder, gentler, more supportive and internally-guided rhythm and pace to change. This shift from what feels like exterior to internal motivation takes TIME. So be gentle with yourself and if you are struggling to practice self compassion seek out others who can model compassion TO you

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When we explore what’s going on inside us in the lead up to a binge it helps makes ‘sense’ of our behaviour; our bingeing feels less mindless and out of control; we can view our situation with more curiosity and ourselves with more compassion. This in turn helps us consider what alternatives there may be for us next time and whether there are deeper issues or challenges we might need to work on.

It can be particularly helpful to explore the binge with someone who is willing to listen without judgement and help us unpack and process our experience in a safe way (this will most likely be a trained counsellor, however a good and trusted friend can also be a great help).

In this podcast I look at how this ‘modelling’ reflects back to us the worth and value so important to our recovery. If you need help with this, I can help you.

michelle@michellesparkes.com

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