We run a variety of eating disorder recovery courses which many people have participated in.
We would like you to meet some very special people….
The first day of eating disorder recovery group was definitely nerve-racking. First day of school feelings running through my body. Would I have anything in common with these people? Would they understand my language? People express themselves in such different ways, and an eating disorder is such a complex beast to unpack. I wasn’t used to talking to/in front of anyone other than my family as I had holed myself up at home for weeks, not wanting to see friends, look anyone in the eye. I was worried that my words would come out gibberish, or that they would only make sense to me. Of course I knew there was at least one thing we would all be able to relate to, but it didn’t necessarily mean that talking to them would help. I was unconvinced.
The first few weeks there were mornings I considered not going, but always seemed to make it there. Something always pulled me out of bed…maybe hope? And to my surprise, no matter how guilty/worthless/hopeless I was feeling as I walked into the room, I felt better, was more hopeful when I left.
Sarah and Fiona were incredibly sensitive, inclusive, patient, informative, intelligent and compassionate facilitators. and I feel that much of my recovery is thanks to them. And there is a word I never,ever thought I would be able to use – recovery. Thank you to RIPE and the golden women who were my rock for 14 weeks, who’s honesty and bravery I will always remember and be inspired by.
I was pretty apprehensive at the end of RIPE. I was worried that everything you guys taught me and all the changes I made wouldn’t stick. I was worried that the wheels might fall off without your constant support and the other girls as well.
But guess what: it stuck! I’m not saying its been easy since we finished I had a few days here and there straight afterwards where I slid back a bit but as I sit here writing this right now I just realised I can not remember the last time I purged. That is absolutely crazy! I can remember the last time I felt shitty about myself and the last time I felt anxious as hell and wanted to. But at those times I used every single tool you gave me and so right now I am the happiest, healthiest Kate I have been in a very long time. Possibly ever.
I truly cannot thank you enough. Before RIPE I didn’t believe I would ever be here. I thought my ED was unbeatable. I thought my life as I was living it, in a constant spiral of binging, purging, feeling disgusted with myself and never accomplishing anything was how it would always be. You wouldn’t believe it though it’s like it’s gone the opposite way. Like the giving myself a break about binging and realising I am OK the way I am despite not fitting into societies aesthetic stereotype , lead to less binging, which lead to feeling healthier and more able to do things, which lead to doing things that made me feel good (like riding horses or seeing my friends) which made me want to binge less. (probably sounds duh’ to most people but it has been a massive lightbulb moment for me!)
It was taking that leap (which felt like jumping off a cliff at the time) and saying OK body I will trust you to do your job and stop punishing you for my perceived inadequacies that started me on this better path. You guys gave me the knowledge and the courage to do that and I will forever be eternally grateful.
I was offered a promotion at my work about a month ago. A fantastic job that I am absolutely loving, working in marketing. I decided to leave school (which I was not loving) to take on the job full time. Before RIPE I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I wouldn’t have believed I was worthy of it, nor would I have been physically well enough or mentally sound enough. You have seriously changed my life.
Again, Thankyou. You’re right, recovery is possible for everyone.
I don’t remember the day I fell into a deep dark hole but i do remember that at first it felt like stepping in a puddle on a rainy day.
A damned nuisance but ultimately something you can forget once you’ve brushed the mud off of your boots. I thought my problem wasn’t a problem. I had figured out a fix and I wasn’t going to let on to anyone that I was dangerously addicted.
I don’t remember the experience I had with an eating disorder in numbers – to be quite honest the span of time, the measure of weight and inches flew around my head so many times while I was trying to get a grip on reality that I couldn’t confidently give you any of my statistics. I think I like that – I think i like thinking of myself as more than a statistic. My experience with an eating disorder solidifies itself in my memory as feelings, events and experiences – a month-long teenage relationship where I ran on fumes because it felt like love gave me sustenance, a new outfit will make me seem relevant. Looking good will mean I will be thin. Thin will mean my life goal is complete.
I learned in recovery that toxic thoughts can have a huge impact on one’s actions and my mental experience with an eating disorder was the perfect example of that. I thought myself as nothing. I grew up in a loving but very driven family and I got lost in the university applications and piano recitals only to find myself staring at a full plate every evening filled with dread and looking desperately for a way out. I initially made myself sick because I thought it made me interesting – maybe that can shed some light on my self-perception as a young woman. My eating disorder skipped steadily along, hand in hand with self harm, anxiety and depression – these issues developed so slowly that I didn’t realise I couldn’t give them back until they were bought and paid for.
I am not a “thin girl”. I know that now. Society wants me to be a “thin girl”. I think sometimes even my mother wants me to be a “thin girl”. There is this ridiculous social ideal where legend states that when the fat melts away from my body to give me acceptable (read: pre-pubescent) proportions, with it my troubles, personality flaws and lack of self-worth will stream out onto the pavement also, and I will emerge shiny and new. Probably with the measurements of a Barbie and no menstrual cycle. Now I know that this is a lie.
Recovery teaches you that you are not alone. If I gained nothing else from sitting in a room lined with bookshelves, covered in a knitted blanket for thirteen weeks and listening to the words of wisdom, hope and despair of women just like and very different from me, I learned that human experience is a beautiful thing, and that no one has the authority to judge another’s human experience.
I can’t even explain how incredibly freeing it was to finally be honest with someone and feel a real, human connection resonating from the other side of the room. I truly did not expect that.
I know this probably sounds dark, but in reality there was a lot of light streaming through during these troubled times. I’m not an unhappy person – I try very hard not to be. Sometimes I run out of energy to be happy for anyone, even myself, and that’s when I realise that i need to dial it back a notch and take a bit more care of myself in the weeks to come. I feel very lucky that I have lived my life – I own my experiences and I am grateful for depths I’ve gone to.
I have colour in my life in the form of my recovery – a beautiful tapestry indicative of the trials and tribulations my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional self has been through. I love the person I am and for me, that is something I never thought I would experience in this life. I hope one day I am strong and secure enough in my recovery to be able to help others open their eyes to the beauty of a life without an eating disorder, a mental illness, a self-esteem problem. That for me would be a life goal, one of many, now that I am free.
Note: Sarah and Fi, I can’t thank you enough for all the hard work and energy you put into us during RIPE. Whenever i’m feeling shaken I take myself back to that room made of bookshelves and It lets me centre myself. All the light and love in the world xxxx
“The group did an incredible thing for me in giving me things I desperately needed – stability, structure, a loving and honest environment to talk in. I think it saved me from hating myself quite so much. I used to think I was the most shallow, awful vain person to have developed an obsession with my appearance and an ED. But when I met other people who had the same problems and found I liked them and cared for them so much despite of it, and that it wasn’t who they were, I found the freedom to feel the same way about myself…”
“With Sarah’s help I’ve accomplished what I once thought impossible, full recovery from bulimia. I’ve been well for many years now, and it’s extraordinary to look back on how much I’ve changed. When I first started therapy at RIPE I thought I knew it all. I’d done years of psychotherapy, I understood myself, my problems, what could help? Well, slowly I began to change my behaviours. I started to think differently. I learned to cope with difficult thoughts and emotions. I realised that the thin = happy life equation didn’t make sense. Recovery wasn’t easy, but, as they say, it actually is possible. Putting into practice the tools that RIPE gave me has changed my life!”
Some feedback from past group members….
“RIPE has changed my thinking and my habits, taught me how to go about things in a different ways and differentiate my emotions. It has given me courage and given me hope.” – L, 28
“RIPE has given me the hope and belief that my ED can be managed. The tools that I have learnt and practiced have helped me enormously and I feel calm about food.” – C, 49
“I have really felt the support of others who believe I can recover. RIPE has really impacted on me by focusing on recovery and making it a higher priority (step by step, not all in one go!).” – E, 33
“Many thanks to you both for your ingenuity and hard work in developing and facilitating the program. Your passion and level of commitment to helping people with eating disorders is much appreciated.” – M, 25