Atypical anorexia: the dietitian is pushing me….

Hello guys,

You know, the specialist eating disorder dietitian I’m working with has a wonderful ability to really listen to me, bring humour to our sessions, really involve me in the treatment around my preferences, etc. …. whilst also giving me ‘The Look’ and being direct with me which is just what I need.

I have to say that I’m finding it hard to keep pushing up the calories and I’m starting to hit a brick wall having got the calories up from a daily limit of 375 to 950. I mean, that’s a huge jump and she said that we need to do it in a way that feels doable but stops me from losing weight, especially as some of my weight will be due to excess skin after losing 170 lbs. What is exciting in many ways is that I’m actually learning about food, going for unprocessed foods (or at least those with minimal processing) and making smart choices. When I overcame atypical anorexia 10 years ago, I was under threat of being hospitalised under the Mental Health Act and it shocked me into suddenly eating more… but I had no idea about what I should be eating. This time is different. This time, I’m eating new foods, I’m not bingeing, I’m feeling some overall sense of balance. I’ve also signed up today to do a course about nutrition and health that should take me about 2 months to do via distance learning as I want to embrace a much healthier approach going forward.

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This is what my current food plan from her is, knowing that I’m not a breakfast person:

Lunch: chicken, watercress, spinach and rocket in a salad or sandwich on wholemeal followed by 0% fat Greek yogurt and blueberries

Afternoon snack: a Graze or Nak’d snack bar (which are made from wholefoods)

Dinner: a ready meal (which I always go low-cal anyway) followed by an apple and a 20g portion of cheese (but I’m not to go for the ‘diet’ or lighter version as she wants me to up the calories)

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This is EVERY day and it feels like so much to eat but she has also asked me to start building in 100 ml of Kefir every day which I bought last night and will try later on today. It’s the 1,000 calorie hurdle that feels daunting but, between her and my therapist, I know I’m in safe hands.

Just waiting for blood test results so it’ll help to see if my kidneys are still being impacted by the restricting. But despite the anorexia there, I’m really trying to focus on looking after me a bit more. I’m picking up new glasses next week, ears are being syringed in 2 weeks, hair is being dyed tomorrow, home-administered smear/pap test has been ordered and I’m considering speaking to a GP about the suspected small hernia. Self-care is something I’ve always struggled with to be honest…. perhaps linking to whether I feel worthy of self-kindness. Body confidence is wavering and so the thought of people ‘seeing me’ or needing to prod me feels really scary but perhaps if I can get my calories to more than double what they were, I can do this too! But I thought these were rather enlightening photos to show how my body has really changed from June 2020 (having already lost about 50 lbs) to January 2021 and then to 2 photos taken very recently:

Hope you have a lovely weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday. No extreme adventures planned for this weekend but I’ll be out with the paintbrush overhauling a bedroom which is equally fun!

Love Erika xx

Week 65: a plan to eat more and crack the anorexia

Hello guys

Gosh, a mixed week in all honestly. I’ve a couple of friends facing really serious illnesses right now and it’s hard not to feel silly when talking about my battle with an eating disorder. But I spoke to my therapist and he said that, yes, we can all compare ourselves to others and think “but I don’t have it as bad as them” but we still live in our own reality… and it’s okay if things get to us. My therapist said that what we face at home with our very poorly son on a daily basis is far more than many people will have to cope with and therefore there’s so much that’s making sense about what I’ve had a reoccurrence of the atypical anorexia. It’s no wonder why I’m looking to find some control in my life but more about that another time!

But as well as seeing my therapist today, I had an appointment with my specialist eating disorder dietitian. Oh, she’s brilliant! She’s really warm and very easy to get on with but she’s also perfected ‘The Look’! Yes, the look to say “Erika, iceberg lettuce is not a meal!!” But she’s set out a meal plan for me for the next couple of weeks until I see her next based around increasing the calories and bringing in some more variety. So, this is what she’s set out for me to eat, knowing that I’m not a breakfast person:

Lunch: a chicken salad but add more to it than I’m currently doing. Followed by 150g fat-free FAGE Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit (like blueberries, raspberries, etc)

Afternoon snack: A Nak’d bar or Graze bar which are around 130 calories and not overly processed but full of protein

Dinner: A ready meal (as I take comfort from knowing exactly how many calories are in them – even if I’m still sticking to ones under 350 calories)

Evening snack (3 -4 times a week): 20g of cheese with an apple

That seems like so much to eat!!!! But it’s structure and I like structure. I know I’m still losing weight as my clothes are feeling looser but I’m still staying off the scales for now. Switching my mind from losing weight to maintaining weight is hard…. but one step at a time, eh. The other really good thing is that the dietitian emailed me the plan but, with my permission, copied in my therapist so it’s definitely helping me feeling supported by a connected group of professionals until I crack this.

I really intended to blog at the end of last week but life became stupidly busy! However, I promise to finally blog about excess skin this week. Until then, please feel free to share your food-related achievements, frustration or whatever’s on your mind

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales! But recordable weight loss includes 21 lbs lost just prior to blogging

Week 62: a 4 hour ‘breakthrough session’ with an eating disorder specialist

Hey guys

This weekend didn’t involve ticking off another activity from my weight loss bucket list like zip wiring or going on a Segway! No, apart from a couple of walks, it’s been a very quiet and reflective weekend after spending 4 hours on Friday talking to an eating disorder specialist but let’s check out this week’s news first:

What’s happened this week?

  • I did get my daily calorie limit over 900 calories last Monday and whilst the physical shock of doing that lead to a psychological wobble and my calorie intake dipping again, I’m currently back up to 650 calories a day
  • I’ve continued to stay off the scales for the past week

What could Erika improve on / next targets?

  • My next calorie target is to maintain over 900 a day. By last Monday evening having eaten more, I was in so much physical discomfort which is probably no surprise with my stomach needing to stretch and my instant response was to then cut back quite severely. But I’m back up a bit and I have to hold onto the fact that increasing is going to feel uncomfortable initially but I need to lean into that discomfort.

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When I booked this 4 hour session, a HUGE part of me wondered how it’d be possible to find things to talk about for 4 hours! I mean, was there enough to talk about for longer than a traditional 60-90 minute therapy session? Well, yes, it turns out there was lots to cover and doing this over Zoom from the comfort of my own home was perfect. I’m going to hold off sharing one of the main headlines about eating and stress as I’ll cover that in more detail either Wednesday or Thursday but here’re the other salient points from Friday:

  • I may well be scared to abandon the anorexic behaviour because the eating disorder is serving a purpose to help me cope with being a carer and Covid is preventing me from accessing my usual coping strategies of trips away. So, I need to think about alternative ways to cope with the stress that are far healthier than restricting my food to this level.
  • One thing I haven’t mentioned on my blog is that I have bipolar though I spend the vast majority of the time in the middle ground and my high and low episodes don’t shift very quickly. But the therapist said that people with bipolar are more likely to have eating disorders as a way of coping with changes in mood. And he wondered whether I’ve actually been experiencing a prolonged high as there’s overlap between the feeling of invincibility, sharpness in thinking, etc. He said that social rhythm therapy might be worth looking into where regulating food, sleep, movement and social situations can help mood.
  • I can change my vocabulary. So, I can aim for words like balance rather than control, guidelines/principles rather than rules. Although I’ve done intermittent fasting for over a year now, he said that this is becoming unhealthy for me because it comes with lots of shoulds and rules.
  • I may be holding onto a lot of shame around my body which is why I’m secretive (except with you lot!) about my weight. I don’t disclose it to anyone including doctors which I thought is quite normal. Perhaps it’s not????! But I’ve also been advised to look at ways to address my excess skin after losing half my body weight because it’s important that I stop hiding from my weight and size.
  • I’ve a special event coming up next month. I identified this one myself but wouldn’t it be good if I could look back later on this year about how I managed to go out for a meal to celebrate this event rather than look back with regret about how a meal felt beyond my capabilities.

There’s been a lot to think about and I’ve already been challenging my language so that it creates more flexibility in my mind. I’ve my second meeting with the specialist eating disorder dietitian later on today and I’m lucky that she works alongside Friday’s specialist so she will have seen the notes on the organisation’s IT system and hopefully help me address my next steps. Really… I do know what I need to be doing but I think it’s okay to admit that sometimes we need a helping hand so that we’re not doing it alone.

I’ll be back later in the week to talk about why we may turn to food in times of stress (can’t wait to share what Friday’s expert said about this as it makes complete sense in my head!). And I’ll soon be talking about excess skin in more detail along with some brave photos because, yes, I’m still hiding behind clothes despite my BMI now being in the healthy range. As ever, please feel free to share your diet / eating disorder / weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss including 21 lbs lost before bloggingStill to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales!

Week 61: another challenge ticked off my weight loss bucket list

Hey guys

Another weekend has passed and another challenge has been ticked off my list of things I can now do at my lower weight. More about that in a moment but let’s take a look at this week’s report card:

What’s happened this week?

  • I’ve now got my daily calories up from 385 a day to 645. I still have a way to go but it’s heading in the right direction and, having just spoken to my therapist, it was helpful to chat through my next calorie target before I meet with my eating disorder specialist dietitian next Monday.
  • I went on a Segway!!
  • I’ve booked my abseiling experience for August so that I have always something in the diary to look forward to
  • I’ve stayed off the scales for a few days
  • I took decisive action to control how much work I’m doing running my business as I need to build things into my week that make me smile and help me connect with others

What could Erika improve on / next targets?

  • My next calorie increase target is to get to over 900 a day by next Monday. Part of me feel it’s doable although it’s horribly close to 1,000 and, well, seeing 4 digits feels too much but I don’t need to worry about that right now. I need to focus on the current target.

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So, on Saturday, I was back at Go Ape and I had my first experience on a Segway. It was really fun although I assumed that turning the handlebars to navigate bends would be like a bike but it’s a different action. And I had to learn to start and stop the Segway by pushing my body forwards or tilting backwards. The other adults in the group were lovely and we went deep into the forest. And I could feel my confidence increase, my speed and increase and then BAM!!!!! I fell….. hard!! I truly thought I might have broken something as the pain in my arm and shoulder was immense and any touch was awful but I also thought I’d perhaps just need to rest it, apply ice and see how it goes. Lots of top layer skin is missing from near my left elbow and my upper back and neck are painful 48 hours on but I’m SO SO SO pleased I had a go. It’s something that I couldn’t have done before because of the weight limit but it’s doing things like this that’s slowly breaking down the physical and mental barriers I’d put up pre-weight loss.

My next bucket list challenge? Abseil off this!!!!! It’s the UK’s tallest sculpture at the Olympic Park in London.

As ever, please feel free to share your diet / weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind and I’ll be back later in the week

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss including 21 lbs lost before bloggingStill to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (haven’t weighed for a short while)7 lbs165 lbs24.9

First meeting with a specialist dietitian. Didn’t think she’d ask me THAT!

Hey guys

Gosh, quite a bit has happened over the past couple of days. As I mentioned on Monday, I was having an appointment later that day with a specialist eating disorder dietitian. With the appointment booked for 90 minutes, I assumed we’d run out of things to talk about but no! We covered a lot.

Reflecting back, I guess there were 3 parts to the appointment:

  • How I’ve got to the point of being diagnosed with atypical anorexia
  • What impact is this having on my body
  • What plan can we put together towards recovery (the scariest part!)

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The first part was quite straightforward and, in some ways, it was helpful to hear that my need to exert some control over my intake makes sense when I deal with a very challenging carer situation at home day in day out.

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The second part was a massive eye opener and the main things that have stuck in my memory are:

  • If menopausal, this is the time a woman is most likely to have a heart attack. And if I’m eating very little, that’s going to put more strain on my heart
  • If I’m not eating anywhere enough, that’ll explain why my trips to the loo are weeks apart! Yes, she asked me about poo! That’s not a conversation I thought I’d be having and oh was I embarrassed!!! But she said that eating very little means the food is just sitting on top of what’s already in my system whereas I need a good amount of intake to work like a plunger and clear me out. I know, TMI!
  • If my body is holding onto things that should have passed through, eating is going to feel uncomfortable. So, there’s even more reason to clear myself by eating a lot more as the uncomfortable feeling will stop at some point.
  • If I’m contemplating horse riding, I need a DEXA scan as I’m at risk anyway with a family history of osteoporosis otherwise a break could be more serious. I did have a DEXA scan 10 years ago when I last had an eating disorder but I freaked out back then when I was asked to get on the scales. The dietitian said that when asking for a referral, I can ask that there’s a note about not being weighed.
  • My body will stop at some point. She said that, yes, I’m functioning but I’m not going to stay in this functioning zone for much longer…. and she said that as I’d mentioned my BMI is in the healthy range, my focus should be about maintaining though she also said I’m bound to still lose more until I get my calories up more. She said there’s no reason to be trying to lose weight (especially if I’m carrying so much excess skin) and this is all about being healthy and not putting my life more at risk.

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The third part was hard (I knew it was coming) though she struck the balance between being supportive and very direct with me … and that’s what I needed. She said the aim should be to increase my calories by 300 a day for the next week and that I need to start this straightaway. She asked if I’d like some ideas about what to eat as she could see from my food diary that what I eat is very healthy (loads of salads and vegetables) but I need to eat more. So, the plan for this week is to eat: a Nak’d bar, a portion of Greek yoghurt and 3 tablespoons of raspberries. Now, I’ll admit that I freaked out a bit and when I bought these items last night, I went for the 0% fat yoghurt rather than the one she suggested and I looked for the lowest calories Nak’d bar on the shelf…. and that’s the anorexic voice feeling very scared. And I did eat more yesterday. I did get my calories up by 200 (to 585) but I felt horrible. My body felt so uncomfortable and it’s the sense of having to do this every single day that feels overwhelming. My first instinct is to cut back today… so this is going to be a battle for a while…. but that 90 minute appointment was so much more useful than I could have imagined.

So, I feel like I’m at the beginning of a very long journey but at least I’m on it and I’ll have another appointment with her in 3 weeks’ time. She was truly worth every penny.

Right, back to work for me but hope you’re all doing okay and I hope to check in over the next few days to see if I’m still managing to stay off the scales. My therapist said to me the other day that I’m brave confronting all of this. I don’t feel brave at all but I guess when there’re competing voices wanting to restrict versus wanting to recover, perhaps I’ll see that I’m having to dig incredibly deep to make progress.

Love Erika xx

Making time to stay well…

Hey folks

A short post today but this image popped up on my social media this morning and, goodness, I needed to see this…

As a businesswoman, my diary is packed over the next few months. And whilst part of me knows that I need to take out some time for myself to get professional help with cracking the restrictive eating of atypical anorexia, there’s that part of me that can’t possibly let other people down. Yet if I was an employee, I’d be talking to my line manager right now about needing to go on sick leave. I need to look beyond today and see the bigger picture of the future on many different levels.

I had a meeting with a specialist psychologist last night about some very individualised support and she shared her significant concern about how many calories I’m eating, And I think it’s finally dawning on me that I’m perhaps more unwell than I previously thought. That’s hard to admit but perhaps it’s a necessary step before I fully realise that the next step has to be recovery….

Much to think about today….

Love Erika xx

Atypical anorexia. Are you ready to recover?

Hey guys

I guess today’s post is to help me think through the concept of recovery from atypical anorexia although it can probably be applied to many other situations, not just eating disorders.

The thing is…. my current situation isn’t really about the food. Sure, the thought of food, how to avoid it, how I’m going to knock off another pound consumes almost every waking moment but things like eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harm and OCD are just the outward behavioural signs of inner turmoil.

As I’ve eluded before, I ‘get’ the logic about my situation as it links to being a carer. Focusing intently on my weight loss takes up a lot of mental space and helps me avoid focusing on the harder things. So, it serves a purpose. What I’m going to do is to look at the pros and cons of recovery. Even as I write that, I’m thinking “Erika, why wouldn’t you want to recover?!!!!” but let’s see how I get on with these lists.

The pros of recovery

  • I can become physically healthy again. I hope this is possible as I know that my organs are starting to be affected but I could possibly prevent them from at least deteriorating further
  • I can reclaim the mental space this is taking up
  • I can then refocus on adopting healthy eating patterns and fully embrace how I’ve lost over 160 lbs
  • I can stop panicking at the thought of meeting up with friends over meals as I love being with people!
  • I can take on the physical demands of things I’ve been looking forward to (which I don’t feel I can right now) like abseiling, adrenalin-filled rib boat experiences, etc.
  • I can get on with the therapeutic work that I’m mentally partly trying to avoid

The cons of recovery

  • It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff
  • I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating
  • If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight
  • I don’t know how to recover

So, let’s challenge those cons:

It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff

Yes, it is scary and that’s understandable Erika. Thing is that those feelings about being a carer need to be processed and masking them isn’t going to make them go away. Talking about this stuff might be really hard but you’ve an amazing psychotherapist in place who you know you can tell anything to. Just think back to what it’s like when your mind feels free and you don’t feel trapped. You can do it, girl!

I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating

Isn’t that understandable?! You’ve lost all this weight, you’ve got a new body (including the excess skin but, meh, a small niggle). But you’ve also been doing the Noom program for 4 months and actually, despite the anorexia, you’ve been learning lots about healthy eating even if you’ve not been able to put it into practice. You’ve actually got a mental tool kit of strategies to now use. Yes, when you recovered from atypical anorexia 10 years ago, you did then put on a lot of weight but this time feels different. Apart from the carer issues, you’re in a good space overall.

If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight

Check out what you wrote above, Erika. You can choose a healthy range to stay between which allows for normal fluctuations. You’ve already set this up as your body weight is 2 lbs away from being in the healthy range but you’d like to lose another 9 lbs overall so that you have some wriggle room.

I don’t know how to recover

And you don’t have to know. ‘Just eat more’ might sound SO simple but you don’t have to do this alone. You know that things have been escalated by your therapist and GP because of their concerns over physical risk so you need to pass over the control. You can’t do this any more. Keep an open mind. Listen to the eating disorder service people who have their area of expertise and work ‘with’ them. Don’t see support as something being done ‘to’ you but work with them like you’ve done with other professionals in the past. They’re just part of Team Erika and will want you to rediscover your true self.

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Gosh, that felt quite intense to write but I hope the above helps at least one person reading this, whatever their situation. In fact, the structure of pros, cons and how to challenge cons is perhaps a format for a range of ‘What shall I do?’ situations. I’m going to record myself reading the above in the next couple of days and then play it back… because I’ll then be able to hear an external voice talking to me which can feel very different to the inner one. Well, let’s see how that goes.

I’ll be back on Friday or Saturday but, until then, take care

Love Erika xx

Where am I right now with atypical anorexia?

Hey folks

So, I thought I’d give an update about where I’m at with an eating disorder that I’ve been really trying to avoid over the past 15 months whilst on this significant weight loss journey.

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For those who haven’t come across my blog before, firstly welcome! I’ve lost about 160lbs since February last year and I’m now just a matter of a few pounds away from my BMI being in the healthy range. In fact, if my excess skin was removed (and I have a LOT!), my ‘real’ weight is probably already securely well within in the healthy range. However, finding myself within the anorexic grip is impacting my heart and kidneys so things aren’t great.

Although I’m having twice-weekly psychotherapy which is just incredible for dealing with some issues around being a carer to my son (and wow do I have the best therapist!), we know that I need some intensive support to avoid ending up in an eating disorder unit or medical unit. I don’t ‘do’ hospitals at the best of times and certainly not right now with Covid. I found a place in London but they said my eating and the weight loss aren’t stable enough to access their evening programme of meal support and therapy. They feel that I need their day support to get this under control…. but I couldn’t do that until late August / early September. Referrals to eating disorder services on the NHS are an all-time high so whilst I sent an email to my GP surgery last week about being referred, I would think that support will very likely be limited unless they wanted to admit me (which I don’t want!). .. but we’ll see. I was thinking this morning that another private option would be finding a dietician with expertise around eating disorders and there’s someone not too far from me who sounds experienced and personable. But when I see my therapist later on today, he may have some news about support from another professional he works alongside.

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I’ll be really honest here. I’m really scared about where I’m at and it feels like the eating disorder has a very tight grip on me as my calories have lowered from before (it’s gone under 400 calories in the past few days). It’s not that I don’t want to eat more. I do! I look at restaurant menus and think ‘yum” whilst simultaneously mentally calculating how many calories are in the photos and how it’d be so ‘wrong’ to eat it. And it’s not the case that I won’t try to eat more. The anorexic voice is loud, making it that I can’t eat more. Eating disorders are complex, very complex, but I know that whilst I went through this 10 years ago, I had many years enjoying food, enjoying socialising so I have to hold onto the hope that I’ll beat this… but I’m struggling to hold onto the hope right now.

You know guys, let’s see what support can be put in place and perhaps maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to blog one day with excitement that I managed to go over X number of calories in the same way that I’ve celebrated moments over the past year like no longer being morbidly obese or getting into those jeans. I’m sure there’ll be many positive posts ahead as life is good and I need to get things back on track.

I’ll be back either tomorrow or Saturday but hope you all have a good day

Love Erika xx

Coming out of lockdown… coming out to comments about weight loss – HELP!

Hey folks

My mid-week post coming a day early as it’d just be good to ‘chat’!

You know, I guess there are parts of this post that could also relate to those who’ve perhaps put on weight during the last year. Much of my life has gone remote with seeing clients online where just my shoulders and head are on show. I feel SO protected like this! I like the fact that others can’t see what lies beneath and I guess I could get very comfortable with being here…. perhaps a bit too comfortable. Virtually everyone I have seen face-to-face are either clients who see me as a one-off anyway or just random strangers if I’m out walking.

I shared last week that I’ve already had comments in the past 10 days from people who have seen me before (i.e. a pharmacy assistant and a builder) and have exclaimed “HOW much weight have you lost?” the moment they’ve laid eyes on me. The thing is that I know (or I guess) that such comments are very well intended and come from a really good place so I certainly don’t begrudge them. Even if I didn’t find myself currently battling an eating disorder, I think I’d feel some sense of awkwardness. Do I like compliments? Sometimes but not about my body. But when the two people have then gone on to ask how I’ve lost it, the last thing I want to say is “Well, you know, I’m battling atypical anorexia right now and I’m actually very poorly and my heart and kidneys aren’t doing great but, apart from that, yeah, just eating less and moving more“! People don’t need to know the truth and I don’t need to tell them. 3 friends, other than professionals, know what’s going on for me. But I feel that that once I crack the anorexic grip that’s dictating how many calories I’m eating, I will be in a better place. My understanding of eating and health have actually improved since the start of this journey. My mind has really changed in many good ways so I’m feeling positive that the weight isn’t going to go back on.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be back to a voluntary job I’ve done for 3 years (but they haven’t seen me since I was 158 lbs heavier last year), I’m bound to see family and I genuinely can’t wait to see friends. Yes, I want to reconnect with people but, you know, it would just be great if they could skate over the whole weight loss thing. But the reality is that I’m just pounds away from losing half my original body weight in 15 months and perhaps they think that I’d love a compliment! No!!!!! Please just ask how I am. Please just ask what I’ve been up to. Please just give me the choice about whether I even mention the whole body shape / weight thing… which I’m very unlikely to! But being able to blog about all of this and talking to my therapist (whom I’ve never met in the flesh since the world went remote last spring) over the next few weeks will be an enormous help. Just articulating how it leaves me feeling and processing that.

I’ll be back on Friday (I’ll try not to forget this week!) about where I am with my eating disorder. My therapist told me on Monday that there is a plan to offer me some additional support with another professional which will run alongside the work I’m doing with him. I have to say that even over the past few days, my calorie ‘limit’ has gone down further…. I won’t go into details right now and in fact I’m waiting to hear a bit more myself about this potential support but I’ll give you an honest update on Friday about where things are at.

Right, off shortly to watch the first semi-final of Eurovision 2021!

Take care all

Erika xx

Films and documentaries about eating disorders

Hey guys

I thought I’d tell you about 5 films and documentaries I’ve watched in recent weeks (some of them having watched many times before). Whether you may / do have an eating disorder, whether you know someone with an eating disorder or just want to gain some insight, these are definitely worth a watch.

1. Kate’s Secret (1986) – available on YouTube

This film depicts a 30-something year old mum and wife struggling with bulimia and, in my experience as someone who ended up in hospital due to bulimia, really shows this eating disorder in its true sense. Also, I find that most films focus on teenagers so seeing adults affected is really welcomed. The film stars Meredith Baxter (from Family Ties fame), Ben Masters and Ed Asner (who’s just an iconic actor!).

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2. The Karen Carpenter Story (1989) – available on YouTube

I was SO excited to meet Cynthia Gibb who plays Karen in this film a couple of years ago. In fact, she told us about the challenges of making the film and the extraordinarily tight control that the Carpenter family had over its production. But it tells the true story about the singer who found fame with her brother but died in 1983 due to complications linked to anorexia. One day, I’d love to go to a Carpenters convention in the US because I know the lyrics of virtually every song and I’d love to visit Downey, California where she lived.

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3. Thin (2006) – available on YouTube

This documentary follows the lives of 4 teenagers and women receiving treatment at the Renfrew Centre, Florida. Really complex individual stories (well, I guess eating disorders are complicated in themselves) and it’s rather sad when you google what happened to some of the participants but it’s an interesting watch.

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4. Dying to be Perfect : The Ellen Hart Pena Story (1996) – available on YouTube

This depicts the true story of US athlete Ellen Hart Pena who became anorexic and bulimic, sparked by a suggestion that her sporting performance might improve if she lost some weight but there also appeared to be other contributory factors. Why do I like this one? I guess I have this long held belief that I’m never good enough, that I’m never perfect enough (yes, I know there’s no such thing as perfect) so I can relate to Ellen. But accepting that I may be ‘okay’ is work in progress. In fact, my therapist said recently that he sees university students placing immense pressure on themselves to be perfect, failure not being an option, desperately to achieve 100%. But, in the UK, you can get a first class degree if you achieve around 70% overall. You don’t have to be 100% to be successful.

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5. Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia (2017)

I like Louis! He’s this quiet almost unassuming British documentary maker who doesn’t shy away from asking the difficult questions but I love his observations (he did a brilliant one about death based in the US). But in this documentary, he’s on the ward of a couple of eating disorder wards in London and he also visits a lady who’s struggled with anorexia for decades. Just a quiet watch but helpful at least for me.

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But other films and documentaries include Perfect Body, Sharing the Secret, Dying to Dance, Hunger Point, To Be Fat Like Me, Emma Wants to Live (this is tragically sad), Feed, My Skinny Sister, When Friendship Kills, For the Love of Nancy, Starving in Suburbia and The Best Little Girl in the World. All these films have girls and women as their central characters and, of course, we know that boys and men struggle too and I think it would be helpful to see a guy as a central character. Saying that, the BBC recently showed a documentary by English cricket Freddie Flintoff about his battle with bulimia and he also featured other men. And in fact, reflecting on the characters in these films, nearly every person is white. Let’s have more diversity please!

But on a different serious note, something has just jumped out at me and you may say “duh” when I tell you what it is. Several of these film titles contain the words perfect and dying. Thing is, I know that eating disorders are dangerous (whilst feeling so good and control at the same time) but seeing the above words in black and white has just hit me a bit today. Can only be a good thing?

So, I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in. In fact, on Monday afternoon just after when I usually blog, I’ve an online meeting scheduled with an eating disorder clinic about potentially accessing support so I’ll update you about how it goes later on in the week.

Well, hope you all have a good weekend and if you know of any other eating disorder films or documentaries, please do let me know

Love Erika xx