ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA

Anorexia can begin very slowly. The individual may start by restricting food intake and sensibly losing weight. They may feel totally in control but very subtly and cunningly the obsession to lose weight will become the most important focus in their life. At this stage the anorexia is usually progressing and the individual is unaware that they are not in control any more. They begin to have a distorted view of their body and experience strong feelings of self-loathing.

Like any compulsive disorder, the individual is taken over by the illness and finds themselves on a perpetual cycle of uncomfortable feelings, shame and guilt over how they look and then the ultimate control of starvation. This sense of control creates an artificial high which taps into the anorexia. The individual is in a state of constant denial at the seriousness of their eating disorder and many severe and life threatening complications can occur.

An anorexic will very often be extremely pedantic about the type of foods they eat and will repeatedly eat the same very limited amount of foods over and over again. They are very good at manipulating those around them to believe that they have actually eaten. An anorexic may also practice bulimia

Bulimia is characterized by an overwhelming urge to get rid of food. Bulimia can take the form of purging in various ways, these include: self-induced vomiting, exercise bulimia (when the obsession to burn calories is the overriding motive to exercise), laxative abuse, slimming pills i.e speed/amphetamine based. All these are mechanisms used to artificially keep weight as low as possible.

A bulimic can often conceal their eating disorder for a very long time due to the fact that they tend to sustain a normal body weight.

The health problems caused by these eating disorders are many and varied, as the body is robbed of vital nutrients necessary for healthy bodily functions. In extreme cases health problems increase and may include hair loss, infertility, osteoporosis, heart problems, kidney failure....bulimia can contribute towards severe damage to the oesophagus, tooth decay and both eating disorders create many internal problems with the digestive system.

Psychologically and emotionally the individual may suffer severe mood swings and depression.

It's important to remember that this illness does not discriminate and can affect young and old alike, both male and female.

The therapeutic group will offer the client a chance to have a space to talk openly and honestly about their illness and start to help in the healing process from this devastating disease.

"I am a 44 year old woman with a history of disordered eating and obsessive compulsive disorder. I developed bulimia when I was 14 following some weight loss on a diet.

In my thirties I was still comfort eating.

I desperately needed help... and I was fortunate enough to be referred to the eating disorder group which Rochelle runs.

...Being in a group where everyone is or has been in the same boat has been extraordinarily healing for me.

I felt safe in the group as Rochelle creates an environment where sharing deeply is not just possible but expected.

Rochelle's voice sometimes takes the place of the 'good angel'on my shoulder. It's usually enough to get me back on the right path!

Thank you Rochelle for being such a significant part of me getting my life back!"

Beverley