Here’s an interview I did for Songs of Praise, (my bit’s about ten mins in).
Thank you much for all your prayers and support. They are HUGELY appreciated.
Really good to see Emma, and good to ‘see’ you too in person. You look and sound well and lovely and real.
What I find is really absent in terms of what is ‘out there’, are the longer term health issues associated with e.d. – I don’t know what it is for you, but the struggle with digestive issues long after the original problem is dealt with, teeth – mine are rubbish, menstrual problems, loss of muscle and you highlight the fertility issue. I have three miracles, so I was a lucky one but never got as ill as you clearly have been.
And should we expect to be able to walk into regular work with its stresses or do we all need to take a low stress path just in case we get pushed back to old patterns. Can we re-integrate. Will anxiety and depression always be at the door. Or perhaps it is just me..
And how ‘normal’ a diet and attitude to food and weight can one hope to have after an eating disorder. Often I see recovered anorexics who still look so thin, and I never see them eat and I wonder – how recovered are you.
Just a few observations.
Thanks! Great questions. I don’t have definitive answers as I think it’s different for different people. I know some folks who would say they are completely recovered, some who are chronically and debilitatingly unwell and some (I think this group is the largest) who are recovered in some respects but still struggle in others. (I’d put myself in the last category). As a friend reminded me recently, the challenge is not to settle – but to keep pressing forward and keep challenging ourselves; in every area. The difficulty is separating what is part of our personality (and which has good as well as bad elements), from the choices we make and patterns of thinking that can be changed. It’s easy to get them mixed up and to either be too harsh or too easy on ourselves. This is where the Holy Spirit is so vital – not just in revealing the desires of our hearts and telling us where we need to change, but giving us the power to do so.
I agree that there’s not a lot out there on the long-term physical health issues, (bones are another big one – and sometimes heart and eye problems, but the list includes: dehydration, muscle atrophy, paralysis, gastrointestinal bleeding and ruptures, chronic fatigue, diabetes, kidney failure, osteoporosis, arthritis, cramps, bloating, incontinence, hair loss, gum disease, insomnia, hyperactivity, infertility, seizures, heart attacks). Part of the reason EDs are so damaging is because you just don’t know how they’ll affect people – some experience long-term serious damage at “relatively” high weights, whilst others recover with few effects. The danger is, you just don’t know. And I think one reason we don’t talk about the longer term issues are because EDs are so grim that you just want to put them behind you – and because these issues (e.g digestion problems) can be embarrassing and painful.
In terms of how much stress we put ourselves under; again, I think it depends on the person – part of recovery is about learning to manage stress and to set boundaries. But it takes time to do this and to learn what we can and can’t handle. And a good rule is to have people around us who can help us to see what’s healthy and what’s not.
Hope this makes sense!
This was great to see, Emma! :) I pray for you a lot, and when Glen said you guys were having a baby, I was so happy for you both, so it was really nice to get a wee glimpse of her on the clip! Thanks for sharing xx
This is exactly why I think “getting better” is a load of rubbish. I’ve been conned into it loads of times and condemned by Christian friends for either not achieving total freedom or not really wanting it… So now I decide on a lifestyle choice that lives with my (residual, not raging) ED because that’s the only way I can manage on my own (and I am on my own – promises of love and friendship have proved empty). I’d like to opt out of life altogether, just haven’t come up with my ideal method yet and still feel a bit Christianly guilty about that so hanging on (with visitis to A&E and/or the crisis team when things get really bad) still secretly hoping that things will change, but not daring to admit this hope because all that seems to do is to give other people permission to push me towards making practical (but not emotional or thinking) changes to try to eradicate all traces of ED.
Hi PWP. I’m sorry this is so hard. Please don’t give up. You’re right that “getting better” is rubbish if all that is meant is “regaining weight” or “eating normally.” “Freedom” is not a certain BMI or lifestyle and the road to it might be very rocky, but… I guess we’d all hope it looks like a level of health and wholeness where you want very much to opt IN to life. As we all know, eradicating traces of the ED is not really the goal. But I really hope you get to talk through the bigger issues with people. You are so much more than your ED and recovery is very different to just adjusting your eating habits. Praying you find people to discuss the bigger issues with.xxx
After writing my last comment, I remembered something you wrote to me a while back (see below). It’s absolutely brilliant – and on the subject of recovery, I think it says it all (esp no 5). Thank you.
1. Not being afraid of being a healthy size
2. Not avoiding intimacy
3. Willingness to engage in self-care
4. Tolerating my body
5. Finding my identity and worth in Christ not in my size/control/image
6. Admitting my needs (physical and emotional)
7. Not avoiding food groups
8. Not restricting my intake
9. Not fearing being weighed
10. Being able to ‘ride the wave’ of emotions
RECOVERY IS NOT:
1. Never worrying about food/weight again
2. Loving my body all the time
3. Being so spontaneous that I do not meet my nutritional/emotional/physical needs
4. Never experiencing pain or strong emotions”
Guess that shows how far I’ve fallen…
I’ve been abandonded in this journey too many times and I can’t do it on my own any more. i know you’ll say that I’m not on my own – that God hasn’t abandoned me – and I also know the answers to a lot of the doubts and questions I have. The tests I’ve set for God: “if you really love me, prove it by…” and not had met because I already know how he’s shown his love, through giving his Son… But I feel like all this is still my empty trust in him in the face of sustained silence on his part. And it’s hard not to feel abandoned or question whether I really do trust that after a while.
I’m like the bleeding woman. I’ve spent all I had (and more) trying to get better and nothing has worked. But unlike her, when I reach out to touch his robes… there’s nobody there. I have absolutely no idea where to turn now.
“I know you’ll say that I’m not on my own – that God hasn’t abandoned me” . I know all too well that it can feel like God has completely abandoned us, and people telling us He hasn’t doesn’t often help. You only have to read the Psalms to see that feeling abandoned is common in the life of the believer. So I won’t give you a platitude that “God hasn’t abandoned you” (although He hasn’t!).There will be all sorts of hurts and history here and I don’t claim to know or understand what you’re feeling. But I would encourage you to get around other believers, because they carry us when we can’t go on and they hope for us when we have none left. And when God feels absent, His people can lead us to Him too. Praying.xx
@ PWP- When its the very darkest , that’s when He is closest. In the valley, the dark tunnels, this is where most change happens..not so much the sun bathed mountain tops. Though I would like that…
We don’t feel Him, but He really is there. He knows the darkness well. We can not always see Him working , but others can see Him in us working away , so Emma is absolutely right when she (annoyingly) points us back to community.
Sometimes I look back at those times when I “felt” so close to God and wonder if maybe I wasn’t feeling something entirely different. Perhaps it was my own momentum, or some natural fruit growing off one or two good choices.
A few years ago I would have told you I was an ex- bulimic & ex-self harm-er still struggling with other issues. But one major relational earthquake and guess who couldn’t bear to feel any food sitting in there? One foul choice and over fifteen years of “sobriety’ flushed down the toilet…literally.
Or maybe not.
Like getting a slap in the face I saw in a flash that my recovery was not mine, but His. Every truly good choice had been made through Him and by Him. Sinful coping was waiting anytime I wanted to go back. The secrecy, the illusion of control, the way one type of pain blotted out all other kinds, I could step back into the pit anytime.
But at what cost?
It turns out I had been changed in other ways over the years and the sin was no longer so easy to keep private. This time around there were more spectators. More who would pay. People I loved more than myself would be hurt. The sin was the very same, but the relief was not. Empty. Exposed. A paper god.
If you cant bear meeting in person with others right now, use this rotten internet for some good. Stay connected to people who understand the abandoned feelings. I don’t even know you and I can believe for you.
prayers my sister
Thank you Caroline. xxx
Yes, thanks Emma and Caroline. I’d forgotten there were online friends to offer help and support too. Mulling over your words… PWP x
I hope you will see this. Just wanted to say that you’re dead right – your words about it being his recovery not yours have been echoing in my head all week.
I have really messed up recently. But it doesn’t have to end there. And even being able to make that decision to try and trust again is his work in me, not mine.
Trying to keep that in mind as I make yet another fresh start today.
Thanks for your wisdom and vulnerability insharing.
PWP- Just saw this, but I have been thinking about you this past week!
Praying you (and me, and all of us) will feel the hands holding us, and know His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Moment by moment.
New every morning as the song goes, if only we all had that written across our lives. I know at the moment I need every day to be a ‘fresh start’ day after whatever my mind has settled on the day before. I also need to think on the Caroline sinful coping versus God’s recovery plan revelation i.e trusting Him enough to let Him take the reigns from us. Got to be a better option than the mess and destruction our coping strategies cause to us and those around us..
You are all great.
Yes! His mercies are new every morning, and yes, he wants our utter dependence.
In HIM we live and move and have our being…
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A New Name by Emma Scrivener