December 6th, 2013 Heather Purdin
From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Pamela Hale
My younger daughter, her husband and her three children visited for Thanksgiving, and among the rich and varied conversations we had, there was the one about the turkey with the purple eyes.
You see, my eight-year-old grandson’s teacher committed what I would name as a cardinal sin, were I Pope. When he created a turkey and painted its eyes purple, that teacher corrected him. Scary? I think so.
An author from my era named Betty Edwards wrote a book in the 70’s called Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain. One of her premises was that around the age of eight or nine, we develop a condition she called ‘dis-artistica.” The cause of the condition is usually a teacher or adult who corrects a child’s artistic interpretation of reality.
“The sky isn’t a blue line at the top of the page,” he or she might point out, meaning well. “Why not color the whole top of the page in? See how the whole sky is blue?” And with this correction, the child makes a decision. Her view was wrong; the adult’s is right. The culture’s is right. The system is right.
When we suffer from dis-artistica, we keep on holding this belief. And if the culture, or the teacher, or the system or the ad we see on TV is right, then we’d better get with it. We’d better be the ones to conform. We’d better start seeing differently.
Another name for this would be tyranny. When we aren’t free to differ—to feel differently or dress differently or have different colored eyes or draw differently—we are slaves to someone else’s rule.
One of the current rules in the American culture is about weight. We know that weight is a health issue, but I’m not talking about real obesity. I’m talking about the rule that you can never be thin enough. We see this rule argued in every fashion magazine. It’s why I’ve stopped reading them. And I love fashion.
I just don’t love tyranny. And when I visit other countries, I remember that in other parts of the world, the standard for weight is different. Being skinny isn’t desirable. Being strong is. Being hardy and healthy is.
I know that everyone who suffers from an eating disorder has thought about societal pressure, and that there are other causes for the suffering of anorexia and bulimia. But one impulse that can motivate you to break free is to think about the societal trance, the disartistica that keeps us from holding on to our own true vision.
This week, how can you break free of that trance? Maybe it’s as simple as painting your toenails yellow. Or creating a turkey with purple eyes. Or considering what you would look like in your most healthy state.
Do you suspect you could have disartistica? Do you think you might have lost that original view you had before the culture got hold of you? If so, declare a revolution! You have the strength inside to be free of false views of how things should look—including yourself. Insist, instead, on your own truth. Insist on the freedom of the turkey to have purple eyes!
November 30th, 2013 Heather Purdin
From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Faith
People often ask me what the most helpful part of treatment has been, and if you’ve followed any of my posts by now, you may have gathered that I’m a girl that will use a little bit of everything. The more support and knowledge I have, the greater ability I have to battle that monster, ED (eating disorder).
A formidable obstacle for many people, including myself, is the lack of treatment resources available that fit within one’s financial budget. What I’m about to introduce may raise red flags for some, for the 12-steps are most commonly related to alcohol and drug abuse, but they have been adapted over the years to welcome those with eating concerns. In fact, the literature of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) is nearly identical to groups designed for substance abuse.
OA can be found in nearly every city, sometimes with groups available daily. EDA groups may be more difficult to locate, but they at least have online meetings for those who live in smaller towns. In addition to this availability factor, 12-step groups are also highly appealing because they are FREE!
I found myself walking into my first EDA meeting due to my fondness for Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go, a daily reader that is fundamentally inspired by the 12 steps. I also began to go because one of the treatment centers I attended at the time was partnered with a drug treatment component and allowed us to attend AA and NA meetings. I actually took away a lot of lessons, inspiration, and real life experiences from the meetings I attended.
Eating Disorders Anonymous
Eating Disorders Anonymous is a self-supporting fellowship of people who gather with the purpose to recover and let others know that recovery is possible. A central effort of the meetings is to practice focusing on solutions rather than problems. There are no specific diets or food plans other than balanced nutrition. In fact, one of the slogans is, “Balance, not abstinence, is our goal.” Of course in substance related groups, abstinence is key, but we cannot avoid food and recover, so we practice moderation.
By now, you all know I am a true sucker for acronyms. Another EDA motto is “HEALTH” which stands for: Honesty, Equality, Accountability, Love, Trust, and Humility. In EDA, “recovery means living without obsessing on food, weight and body image.” Rather than becoming a victim, “Recovery means gaining or regaining the power to see our options, to make careful choices in our lives. Recovery means rebuilding trust with ourselves, a gradual process that requires much motivation and support. As we learn and practice careful self-honesty, self-care and self-expression, we gain authenticity, perspective, peace and empowerment.”
Keep it Real!
The first trick of the trade is finding the meetings that best fit you. You may need to try a few different groups to find the one that will best serve you. Over time, each group develops a unique “personality” so they are as unique as those who attend. The second key to success is finding a sponsor to help you start working the steps. A sponsor is similar to a mentor, someone who has already taken their journey through the steps who commits to helping you walk through yours. I think I have met some of the most humbling, authentic and honest people throughout my recovery process at these 12 step meetings. You don’t have to wear a mask; you just have to be real!
The Basics of a Meeting
Meetings all have a similar format and last about an hour. Meetings range from being as small as 2 people to being in large auditoriums. Meetings usually begin with a reading of the 12-steps and traditions and include time for announcements and an introduction of newcomers. Then, someone is usually chosen to go over a step or tradition and how they experienced it or to just share in general. People often talk about a Higher Power, and although there is this spiritual component, no religion is forced upon anyone. If not read at the beginning, meetings usually close with reading the Serenity Prayer and EDA Promises. A brochure is also passed around on which people can voluntarily put their name and number to be shared with the group if they are willing to be a call support for the week. Separate from a sponsor, a call support is someone that you can simply call if you are having a hard time. If they put their name down, they seriously want you to call them; they are not doing it because they feel obligated!
At some point during 12-step meetings, a basket is passed around to collect donations, which are used to pay for the rented space and program materials since EDA is a self-supporting program. If you can’t or don’t want to donate, DO NOT feel you have to and DO NOT let it deter you from trying out a meeting.
I always appreciate the sense of belonging and acceptance in these groups, because everyone is rowing the same boat. We are all there to support and lift each other up. Because of this authenticity, be prepared to be held accountable to things such as honesty. Remember, HEALTH! ?
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will
be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a
new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor
wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity
and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we
have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That
feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest
in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip
away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of
people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively
know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will
suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being
fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will
always materialize if we work for them.
Finding a Meeting
If you have difficulty finding a meeting in your area or are too nervous to try it alone, there are three weekly online meetings through the EDA website, where you will also find a TON of information, 12-step related literature, how to find a meeting in your area, and the online chat room.
I’ve traveled a lot, and if I can’t find an EDA meeting, I usually try out some of the local OA meetings. In the worst case scenario, there are always the online meetings, which are literally accessible worldwide!
I definitely appreciate the flexibility and availability of the 12-step programs.
If You Work It
You can never have enough support, and you literally never have to be alone in your recovery! I still have to remind myself every day to accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things that I can, and express the wisdom knowing the difference. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I had to battle ED alone all the time.
Recovery is a journey, so empower yourself and fill your path with all of the resources and tools you have at your disposal.
It will work if you work it!!!
November 23rd, 2013 Heather Purdin
From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Pamela Hale
This is the week when we as a country start thinking about gratitude. Now, I know that may not be what’s on your mind. After all, here comes one of those holidays that’s all about eating. For you, it might seem like a deadly day where you take family dynamics, a huge cookathon and a person with an eating disorder and try to come out with…gratitude!
So I asked my Sand Spirits Insight Cards for some wisdom about Thanksgiving and gratitude for you. This image, #26, is the one that popped up. What do you see in this photo of a natural arrangement on a beach? I see two stones (well, maybe a third that’s partly buried) and some streaks in the sand. Could they suggest a form or figure?
When I took the photo, I saw a woman. Her head is the red stone, and she has a triangular robe or gown on, and her right arm is raised as she holds up something (the other greenish/ grayish stone.) At her throat is the partly buried small stone. She is my Sand Spirit for this question I asked.
“Who are you?” I ask my Sand Spirit.
“I am every woman,” she says, “but today I’m standing in especially for women suffering from eating disorders and facing the complexity of the holidays.”
“What are you holding up?” I want to know.
“I am offering my suffering up to my higher power, to God or to the Universe, if you prefer. My form of suffering is a mystery to me. It makes no sense. And so, when I feel helpless about it, I simply offer it up.”
“And what does that do for you?” I ask.
“Well, it excuses me from having to understand it,” she says. “For now, it just is. But I offer it up with a prayer or a wish or hope. That is, that through my suffering my heart might open rather than close. And through my recovery I might find gifts I never knew I had, strengths I didn’t suspect, and a purpose to my life I might have forgotten otherwise. Depending on where each woman is now, such a prayer might either be easy or seem totally far-fetched. But that’s my prescription.”
“And is there a way that can help a woman through a potentially difficult holiday?”
“Yep. Because sometimes the worst thing about any form of suffering is that it takes over our world. We really forget that this will pass, that recovery is possible, that we can be happy and whole. And so offering that up is a crucial and important act.”
Now I see a second form in the photo. Look at the streaks below the red stone and see if you can find a weird face with closed eyes, a nose that looks like it extends down forever, and perhaps a beard. I call this form The Wizard. Now the red stone is in his forehead, his third eye. And the greenish stone is his guidance from above. What does he say to you?
To me, The Wizard says that gratitude is the beginning of wisdom. For when we can remember our blessings, we remember our true name. We remember who we are, and our real position in life. We are so much more than a person with an eating disorder.
You are a wonderful person with years ahead of you where you can discover your wholeness, your brilliance, your ability to find universal guidance. You have a wizard inside you. If you can look within and find this Wizard, wisdom will be yours. And there will be a lot more to celebrate than a second helping of turkey!
May you have a blessed holiday where you discover more gratitude within you than you knew was possible.
November 15th, 2013 jrust
I couldn’t wait to let you all know about this new neuroscience research! It’s beginning to look more and more like brain-based interventions will be a hopeful frontier for eating disorders recovery.
I’ve always thought that the brain was where an eating disorder began.
At Mirasol, we have been integrating neurofeedback into our holistic eating disorder treatment programs since we first opened our doors. While we’ve witnessed profound outcomes anecdotally since, we’re finally starting to get empirical proof of what we have always intuitively known! Yay!
Over the course of four to six weeks, study participants (n=20) each received 20 sessions, each 45-minutes in length, of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Nearly half of the participants experienced symptom relief at a 50% or greater magnitude. Of added significance, the subjects presented with persistent eating disorders. Individuals with enduring eating disorder symptoms are often tagged as “treatment-resistant” or ”hopeless cases”…While the sample size is quite small in this particular study, the collective neuroscience findings over the last year are equally impressive and hopeful.
November 4th, 2013 jrust
From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Pamela Hale
The organizer of our African safari, artist Fred Krakowiak, took this remarkable photo of a hippo charging. And let me tell you, it was impressive. Especially from our vantage point in our canoes as we were paddling down the Zambezi River. Especially knowing that hippos kill more people than any other African animal.
The Zambezi has the largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles anywhere on the continent, a fact that makes a paddler stay…attentive. So when this hippo began to move, faster and faster, we certainly did give way and let him go wherever he wanted.
His charge was not at us, even though it was in response to our presence. When hippos feel threatened, they want to go to their safe place: deep water. Their instinct is so strong that for humans, it’s just important not to get in the way.
So what wisdom might the hippo share related to this powerful instinct?
Well, shallow water means vulnerability, and deep water means safety if you’re a hippo. So this hippo might say to us, “If you feel threatened, go deep.”
For us, this might seem counterintuitive. After all, in shallow water, we have our footing. But for the hippo, deep water is the place where mating takes place, and where babies are born. It is the place of beginnings—perhaps a place like the safety of the womb.
When we think of deep water that way, going there makes sense. When we’re threatened, why settle for a shallow form of safety? Wouldn’t it make more sense to plunge right back into the deep place of our origin, the mysterious, wordless place where all is still and hidden and where we are free to float protected?
Deep water could represent the land of sleep, the place of deep dreams, the watery world where the “logic” of the outer world is stilled. Or deep water could mean dropping below the surface to a level where profound truths and understandings lie.
Part of the suffering related to eating disorders lies in the shallow world, the world where we’re never thin enough, never perfect enough. In the shallow world, we get stuck believing lies like this, and trouble begins. It is when we go deep when we remember what life was like at the beginning and what it will be like at the end. Surely it will not be about the size of our jeans.
How do we get to a deeper level, to our deeper truth and to our deeper selves? There are many practices. Meditation takes you into deeper waters. So does prayer, dreamwork, journaling, art, poetry and good music. Anything that stills the static, the chatter of those shallow places where much of the world’s commerce takes place.
Sometimes we get so caught in the shallow places that we can’t find our way back to the depths. That’s when therapists can help us plumb those depths, find our compasses again, remind us how to dive and swim, help us remember how to return.
Hippos are like living submarines. They disappear for long periods, sending bubbles up ahead of them when they surface. Like their closest relative—surprisingly the whale—they are most at home in water. But, they emerge at dusk to graze on land. So, eating is not their safest activity. After they finish nourishing themselves, they return to where they function best: in the depths.
Wherever you feel you function best, it’s a great thing to remember that you are probably amphibious. You can play around in the shallows, but when things get rough or scary, dive back to the place where your whole self can remember who you really are. And if someone in the world of the shallow doesn’t understand, just tell them you’re following the wisdom of the hippo.