Monthly Archives: January 2014

Starved for a Cure

ABC Radio National have produced a fascinating radio documentary piece looking at the experience of eating disorder recovery and looking at a new treatment approach from Hawaii.

You can download the this current affairs documentary in full at the following address:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/currentaffairsspecials/radio-current-affairs-documentary3a-starved-of-a-cure/5159108

Consuming Control – a short documentary

A fascinating look at the world of eating disorders and eating disorder recovery, produced by emerging South Australian filmmakers from MAPs Film School.

Check it out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmA9Ez4WXIQ

Body Image Movement – ‘What’s it all about?’

Body Image Movement

www.bodyimagemovement.com.au

So what is The Body Image Movement?

Well, in their own words, it’s a movement to ‘recognize and value real beauty from the inside out.’ The Body Image Movement aims to harness and ‘facilitate positive body image activism, including encouraging women to be more accepting of who they are, to talk a positive body language’ (about themselves and others) with a priority on health before beauty.

Sound like something you might be interested in hearing more about? Well you can find out more at their website, or by visiting their Facebook page.

And let’s get behind the movement for positive body image in Australia.

Eating Disorder Festive Season Checklist

Festive season checklist

We understand Christmas and the holiday period can be a difficult time for some. It is important to remember planning and communication is the key. To help you cope with the stresses of this busy season we’ve come up with a check list you can follow to reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed.

In the lead up to Christmas and New Year:

  • Don’t be scared to say ‘No’ to invitations if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Socialise with trusted friends & family prior to Christmas.  Where possible, do this over a meal or snack to help prepare you for Christmas gatherings.
  • Discuss with someone you trust how to cope with family interaction by predicting and preparing for social activities.
  • Predict likely questions from family and friends you haven’t seen for a while and prepare some responses.
  • Plan what you will do to give yourself ‘time out’ from the crowd – perhaps listen to music, going for a walk with a friend or family member, sitting in the sunshine.

When eating out

  • Take time to plan and to think about who will be present and what food is likely to be served.
  • If you don’t know what food will be served ask the person who will be preparing the meal, or ask a family member to find out for you to reduce your anxiety.
  • Offer to take ‘safe’ food to share so you feel comfortable knowing there is something you can eat.
  • Focus on enjoying the company of companions rather than what you are eating.
  • Many people overeat on Christmas Day and often comment on the quantity they have  so remember these comments are not aimed at you.

Communication

Communication reduces holiday stress.  We all know how busy life gets in that hectic period around Christmas each year. For many families the changed routines and extra day to day activities means less time to talk and listen to one another. Ironically, effective communication is a perfect coping mechanism for families to deal with the holiday season’s increased stresses.

  • Effective communication requires
    • Concentration
    •  Tolerance
    •  Rephrasing
    •  Sensitivity when listening and
    •  Ability to express your own thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself how you feel so that you can state your message as clearly, honestly and constructively as possible.
    • Take the time to talk. Whether you’re driving, wrapping gifts, or doing household chores it is important to maintain communication in order to help create a memorable and pleasant holiday experience for the entire family.

(Adapted by Mary P and Lisa H, from Eating Disorders Victoria December 2011 and 2012 Newsletters)

Learning to Face and Float

Managing a panic attack is daunting for anyone – even those of us with years of experience and recovery practice under our belts. But throughout my own recovery from panic disorder I have returned again and again to one particular technique that has always offered great power and flexibility – helping me continue to live life to the fullest even when the challenge of anxiety has loomed large.

I first discovered the technique of ‘facing and floating’ whilst reading the world famous books of Dr Claire Weekes. Weekes was a pioneer in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia, and the cognitive and behavioural techniques she developed throughout her career were so radically successful that she was even nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their development.

Her approach to managing panic was to instruct her patients to face towards their panic instead of shrinking from it, and to learn to relax and let the anxiety wash over them until it had run out of steam. For those facing panic attacks for the first time, this approach can seem a little counter-intuitive. But I promise you, it works!

To get your head around the specifics of the ‘face and float’ technique start by thinking about how a person swims versus how a person floats. To swim you have to have all your limbs coordinated and then you have to learn to breath and paddle in time with the water. This is fine when the water is calm, but when the waters are choppy it’s much harder to swim with confidence and keep your head above the waves.

Now floating on the other hand – well you don’t really have to learn how to float! Even a block of wood can float successfully on a choppy sea. All you need to do to float successfully is relax and not get in your own way. You just lie there and let the water take you.

So lets apply this analogy to panic: When panic strikes, do you furrow your brow  and desperately try to paddle against your fears, or do you relax and trust your own body’s ability to float? Next time panic is upon you, why not try doing nothing and letting time pass. Don’t try to fight the panic, don’t grit your teeth and try to ‘tough it out’ – just do nothing. Let the panic come to you. Look at it for what it is – a shift of brain chemicals and a shot of adrenalin. It cannot hurt you! Acknowledge that it’s there and then float on through. Get on with the ordinary things you need to do without worrying about the anxiety for a while.

Dr Claire Weekes often described floating as ‘Masterly Inactivity’, that is:

to stop holding tensely onto yourself,  trying to control your fear, trying ‘to  do something about it’ while subjecting  yourself to constant self-analysis.

When I first heard of this technique, I thought that it sounded like a pretty hard thing to attempt. I mean the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling anxious is embrace your anxiety and invite it in… On the contrary, you want to get rid of it as fast as you can. But it’s this fear of panic, and determination to avoid it at all costs that pushes a panic sufferer to start feeling more and more anxious.

As Dr Weekes explains it,

The average person, tense with battling,  has an innate aversion to …letting go.  He vaguely thinks that were he to do this,  he would lose control over the last vestige of his will power and his house of cards would tumble.

But believe me when I tell you, this will never happen!

In reality, learning to face and float through panic is a key stepping stone to learning to let go of the ‘fear of fear’ – and for a panic disorder sufferer it is most often the fear of fear that causes the most distress.

These days the technique has been recognized as being so successful that it now forms a major component of what psychologists and psychiatrists refer to as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

If you want to build a life without panic, you can always start by learning to accept that your panic is here to stay (for a little while at least). Maybe at the moment it still has the power to frighten you, but it certainly can’t hurt you. So stop struggling and battling against it – let it be and simply float.

Many of Dr Claire Weekes books on anxiety are still in print, and you can order them through your local bookshop, or check out her website at www.claireweekes.com.au

Eating Disorder Support

Are you looking for extra support managing your eating disorder? Here’s a new way for technology to lend a helping hand.

Recovery Record

Recovery Record is an android and iphone application which provides support with meals, mood charting etc. You can find information on their webpage which we’ve  provided a link for below:

http://recoveryrecord.com/