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Thank you for visiting my thoughts and ideas site. If you want to speak directly or have my thoughts on something that is important to you email me at admin@ncfed.com

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Helping People To Get Help or, Anorexia Porn

I was on the ITV 1 Good Morning programme today with two girls who are in recovery from anorexia. To illustrate how bad anorexia can be, they showed a photo one of of the girls, taken when she was only 3 stones in weight and close to death. The girl is now a healthy weight and despite never having menstruated, now has a healthy baby boy.

Some people say that showing such pictures is shocking and unnecessary. They say it trivialises and sensationalises anorexia and would cause harm to some watchers.

I am not so sure. It just doesnt have much emotional impact to say I have had anorexia really badly and now I am well. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Personally, I am more upset by scenes of gratuitous violence in the visual media than I am upset by the "ana" pictures that inspire some people on pro-anorexia websites.

How else can we portray the madness and the pain of anorexia and how it affects some sufferers? When I have the answer, I will blog again.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

If I Knew Then What I Know Now - Bulimia My Torment

Can warnings from a former bulimia sufferer help vulnerable people to avoid going down the eating disorder route?  Bonita Norris, who has climbed Mount Everest both literally and in her experience of bulimia wants to tell her story in schools to help people who have the illness feel supported and hopefully to prevent others from going through the hell and misery that has come with her illness. And I would like to help her.

The discomfort that leads to bulimia doesnt hit quickly. It creeps up on you like cats paws until one day you are on a diet and the next day your control has broken down. Then, not only are you going to get fat all over again, you experience yourself as weak and pathetic to have given in to your most desired and feared foods. You dont know that binge eating is a normal response to dieting - you just blame yourself and you will do anything to stop yourself from gaining weight.

And if somone were to tell you not to go on a diet and you are just 15 and feeling just awful about your appearance; what will you do? Will you listen with your heart as well as with your ears to the warnings of people who have been there too?

This is the dilemma that faces me in my eating disorder prevention work. The desire to be in control is normal and people who get into eating disorders have serious issues with control, coping, and living up to their own enormous expectations. They look at other people and they are sure that they just don't measure up. When you are just 15, you dont know about issues like boundaries, eating disorder thinking, you have no idea that feeling fat is really being full of feelings that cannot be expressed. You don't know how to deal with constant assaults on your fragile self esteem and you don't know how to look in the mirror with a compassionate gaze.

Therapists need to read the stories of people who are coming out on the other side of their eating disorder and can see it for what it really is. This helps us to understand. Telling the story is also the way that the sufferer can start to heal. I wonder how the story can help a 15 year old who hates her thighs and who wants to be the thinnest girl in the room. I would like to know if the story can help a 20 year old who is in the throes of her illness and who feels that she cannot survive without her disorder.

I would like to share Bonita's blog with you and help her to raise money to help her dream. One message I have for Bonita is that bulimia can be cured in such a way that it will never come back. It doesn't have to lurk in the dark corners of your world.

We all need to live a dream that is not dictated by the demands of an eating disorder. There is no space for eating disorders when you follow a dream. Healing lies here too. 


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Last Chance Saloon - Weight Loss Surgery Revisited

Professor Finer has said forget the diets, they don't work for most people. Weight loss surgery will have to be made available to most people who need to lose weight in the future. He is not talking about the gastric band, this is the full monty - gastric bypass surgery known by various other names by obesity experts.

TV programmes and magazines used to focus on the horror aspect of weight loss surgery. We had stories about people who had to sit and have a teaspoon full of soup while watching their partners tucking in to a banquet at the local Chinese restaurant. Now, celebrities such as Vanessa Feltz and Anne Diamond have succumbed to the gastric band and are telling the world how glad they are to leave behind the struggle of their relationship with food on the cutting room floor. This will mean that many more people who are tired of yo-yo dieting will feel that it is normal and acceptable to choose surgery as the ultimate solution for their weight and eating problems.

Surgeons are getting better at doing weight loss surgery; they are doing more of it and talking to each other about what works best. That can't be a bad thing at all.   I have personal experience of good success stories and I have heard of things that can go wrong - some colleagues who warn us of greatly increased suicide rates among people when all the euphoria of the early weight losses is over. I have also heard stories of weight regain in some people who have done the surgery, in some cases at great personal expense.

Counsellors are very opposed to gastric surgery. They believe that overeating is a symptom of something that cannot be brushed away. There are associations of overeating with managing trauma and dangerous emotions. Fatness can be a useful defence in someone who is posibly afraid of being vulnerable at a lower weight. One person said to me, "if my boyfriend left me, I could blame the weight. If I was slim I would have to blame myself".

Compulsive eating is not a contra-indication for weight loss surgery. Surprisingly, many people who binge eat find that the compulsions disappear after their operation at least for a couple of years.  It is only then that weight loss slows up or eating difficulties begin to reappear. It has to make sense therefore to do some eating disorder counselling for the bariatric patient. But very few get it.

Gastric banders who are compulsive eaters do less well. Because their stomach is still intact the appetite may not wane and we hear stories of people who try to cheat their band by eating foods that slip down easily like ice cream. It has to make sense for these people to have some pre surgery eating disorder counselling too. But very few get it.

Bariatric counselling is a specialist area. If you want the surgery or if you want to help people who are desperate to lose weight, get in touch. The number is 0845 838 2040