Eating disorders are complex things.
Quite often, an eating disorder will exist in comorbidity (simultaneously) with other challenging mental issues, like clinical depression or the many forms of anxiety. With these in conjunction, which as you may have experienced, are debilitating by themselves, it can be hard to know where to start the healing process.
It’s frightening in itself thinking about your disorder, but when faced with the challenge of curing yourself, most of us think “I’m so confused. How do I do this?”
If I had one message to communicate to people living with an eating disorder (whether it’s the patient or the carer), it would be: don’t mistake the symptoms for the problem.
Tending to the symptoms is a necessary part of the process, but underneath all of the secretive behaviours, the mind games and neurosis, is a very sensitive heart– one that is in need of nourishment, perhaps beyond anything material or tangible.
I spent many years feeling lonely, ashamed and scared. I had lost touch with the person I was and became seemingly emotionless, besides the sporadic cries, or bouts of cyclical moodiness.
But it was when I hit rock bottom that I realised change was not only possible, but also essential if I wanted to live past 20.
I went through a hospital program in Sydney that turned out to be just what I needed to set me assail. Starting the program, I thought there was no way out of this place I’d been stuck in, this part of my mind that I continued to suffer in, but I made the courageous and nerve-wracking decision to confront what I was battling against. I thought to myself how am I going to change? Which led to an even more specific and constructive question:
What exactly was it in my life that needed to change?
It may be surprising, but I actually did little else other than add yoga and meditation to my life. I made that my number one commitment and the rest… fell into place.
Yoga was my saviour throughout my toughest years, and still is to this day. It helped me build awareness and get back in touch with myself.
Throughout the hardships of teen life and a broken family, I had lost my way and felt as if I had nowhere to go. My yoga and meditation practice became my sanctuary; my safe haven. It was the only place I could feel deeply and completely accepted. Out in the world, I was scared to cry, laugh, feel or love. On the mat and during my private meditation pracitce, the tears would flow, my heart would soften and my mind would still.
The power of yoga in its complete sense is indescribable. I feel what it does to my body and mind, yet, I find it hard to explain its infinite potential to heal and liberate.
The ancient practice of meditation, on the other hand, can be described as “the action or practice of meditating.” Which prompts the question,
What is meditating?
The Australian School of Meditation & Yoga describes the practice as being “… a path of self discovery it is inseparable from the yoga system. The culmination and definition of yoga—is perfect spiritual love. The word “mantra” is a Sanskrit word that has two parts; “Man” means mind, “Tra” to draw away from. In the practice of mantra meditation the mind and heart are drawn away from the material dimension with all of its hassles, stresses, worries, etc, that continue to burden us. In meditation you’re focussing your mind on the mantra and gradually the mind develops an attraction or a taste for the mantra, for the spiritual dimension itself, and finds comfort in it and relaxation in it and rest in it. So the mind gradually experiences restfulness or peacefulness in the mantra.”
And in my experience, this process and focus has the ability to unlock even the hardest of hearts. Mine, for example.
It helped me to experience joy and real lasting happiness (for the first time in my life) and opened up a whole new world of loving relationships, good health and vitality.
We all know that life can get hard, relationships can stray and your body can undergo bad experiences, and it breaks my heart to see so many young people suffering in the same way I did. Not only because I feel their pain, but also because I can’t get around to everyone to tell them that change is possible; that there is hope for a brighter future.
My recovery journey was a long road, but I am now nine years recovered and on a mission to help others on their recovery path.
I currently work with health professionals around Brisbane and the Gold Coast to coordinate events and support groups that assist both carers and sufferers in getting the help they need to assist their recovery journey.
If you’d like to get involved in any of our free support groups, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hearing the success of others can help bring hope on your own recovery path.
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration has a great list of helplines via phone or web, so please reach out if you are in need. The list can be found here.
It can also be beneficial to practice meditating with your partner/carers. Meditation brings about a greater understanding of those around you and helps to lessens/remove the stress, anger and resentment that can unfortunately come as a result of the frustration of suffering mental illness.
Are you stuck and don’t know where to start your healing process? Here is the exact process I used to heal from my battles with eating, depression, anxiety and PCOS (including a simple guide on how to add yoga and meditation to your life).