Eating disorders

Stone sorrow,photo by constantin jurcut,Rachel commented on my post on addiction and anorexia saying that she hoped I could help her. When it comes to eating out she tries to order a meal that will be easier for her to finish instead of one that she really wants and feels nervous throughout. Rachel claims she is so preoccupied with this thinking that she doesn’t finish the meal. As she is planning to travel, this problem is preventing her from going.

My response to Rachel is that as I do not know enough about her condition I cannot accurately assess her problem, however, I am willing to hazard a guess. Rachel, what you describe sounds to me that your are obsessing over your problem and that is usually the basis of an eating disorder. I have had clients who have benefited from a few sessions with me. There are also stories which can help you that are shared at OA, which is for all eating disorders not just overeating. So Rachel get professional help to guide you through this difficult condition and attend some OA meetings for support from others who have experienced what you have and found the solution.

Stone sorrow, photo by constantin jurcut, Hungary, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/888751

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13th Step Syndrome

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit RalevIn March 11 2006 I wrote about avoiding the 13th Step which means “screwing someone crazier than you” – a term clarified by Dr. Stephen Jurd (a leading addiction psychiatrist). There have been more comments on this post than any other post I have written. The more recent comment on 12/10/07 by the author of Damn That Ojeda! website is worth mentioning here because of the enthusiasm with which the message is being relayed, and in order to correct the interpretation of my qualifications. The author refers to Coulter, ‘a right winged journalist’, intending to promote her book whilst appearing on a Carlson program which should discourage similar types from being edified because they are described as having…

spewed out such horrendous slanderous nonsense for no other reason than to let them promote more of their hate [which] will be diagnosed by me as having Dr. Affie Adagio Syndrome.

Allow me to explain.

Dr. Adagio herself does not have this condition. She’s a physician consulting chemically addicted clients and helping them go through the 12 steps of recovery. A noble and worthwhile cause indeed.

But in her treatments and counseling, she’s added one more step:

The 13th Step: Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You

This, I would argue, is the problem with Carlson, et al. They allow themselves to electronically bed with Crazy Coulter for no justifiable reason. If she’s such a callous moron with nothing noteworthy to say before she goes on your show, why would you think your own program will be any different?

As the good doctor explains:

“It is not helpful to enter into an intimate relationship with someone who needs our assistance to recover from any illness or needs to improve their skills.”

Affie’s response: The author of Damn That Ojeda! has, indeed, the correct interpretation of the use of the term 13th Step which I also intended for people outside the 12 Step recovery program. This is because I believe it is a symbolic term of that extra step in any program which trains professionals to provide a service to others and therefore be responsible for not abusing the privilege.

One important correction that needs to be highlighted is that I am a qualified Family Therapist/Life Coach specialising in compulsion and recovery (addictions), a Doctor of Philosophy not a Medical Doctor or Physician. My PhD research was in Compulsion and Recovery and as a result I believe in a diversity of approaches – a synthesis or a balanced approach to recovery.

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit Ralev http://ralev.com/

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Self love or codependence

My eyes, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, GreeceAn important part of being in recovery from codependence is having a healthy relationship with self. In other words, the choice is self love or codependence. A comment from Maranda on my post about having a relationship with self shows how difficult it is for some to conceptualise this – “Nice theory… How can you start “loving yourself” in real life, I wonder?” Some people can only feel lovable when someone else loves them and then they see themselves through someone else’s eyes. No one can make you feel in a certain way unless you allow yourself to feel that way to begin with. So the ability to feel one way or another comes from within. The same way that you can feel terrible about your self, you can feel confident about yourself and, therefore, feel lovable – that’s self love. To hand over your power about how you feel is codependence or being neurotic.

Loretta came home with her small children and
found his clothes gone!
she managed to get the toddlers bathed, fed and to sleep
then she collapsed as the reality hit her
what happened? how come she didn’t know?
how did he expect them to survive without him?
she got through the night without any sleep
then the next day she was in ‘shell shock’
but the next night, too exhausted to stay awake
she drifted off believing that without him she
would be forever alone raising their children
it never occurred to her that she was lovable
at 25 she thought she would live alone forever!
fortunately, she remembered that she is lovable
and when faced with self love or codependence
she chose to focus on the relationship with self
he came back but in time she just sent him away
because she discovered that she deserved better

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Procrastination affects us differently

170958_me_myself_and_i.jpgI have written several posts on procrastination because it is such a traumatic experience and common to many of us. Procrastination affects us differently – some worse than others, as can be seen by Terry’s comment below. Regardless of how immobilised you feel when procrastination takes hold, there are different strategies that you can choose from to assist you. The most effective technique or strategy is that you learn how to relax so as to let go of the fear the task is causing you. Then give yourself permission to wait until you feel ready to begin. Plan a small step to begin your task once you have relaxed – the momentum will overcome your procrastination. You can find what works for you or you can choose to be a victim of procrastination. You may need some professional assistance to overcome the block.

What about when the procrastination paralyses you and when you are unprepared you perform badly and feel awful and embarrassed. Its as if something inside is hoping for failure. Or when you have a deadline for a task and leave it till the last minute and the stress builds up but there is a block to complete the task. Terry

me myself and i, photo by Davide Farabegoli, Milano, Italy, howto relax

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Secrets fester

Ball, photo by Marcelo Gerpe, Buenos Aires, Argentina, stimulus responseWe should not confuse the concept of secrets and confidentiality. Confidentiality is when we don’t disclose information that belongs to someone else unless respecting that person’s privacy is threatening to someone else. Having a secret is withholding information because there is shame about it and that can only cause the secret to fester. One thing leads to another and before long the secret is exposed and so are the lies that have been used to cover it up. This is the basis for compulsions and addiction.

Gary came into the halfway house after detox
and the first lessons her learnt were that
he needed to abstain from using drugs
he needed to go to meetings every day
he needed to keep his own area clean
he needed to do likewise with the rest of the home
and he needed to be ‘up front, honest and open’
about how he felt and what he was doing
in other words ‘no secrets’ because they
go hand in hand with lies and shame
which are what everyone needs to be free of
so as to be in recovery from addictions

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Being happy

Sunset Dance, photo by Eric Vallin, Béthune,  France,  happiness isHumans will go to any lengths to be happy. We feel we deserve happiness and rightfully so. Some people have the ability to feel happy easily from the simplest experiences. While other people are not so fortunate and they need a substance or process to help them feel that ‘high’. However, using something to feel ‘high’ becomes the beginning of the end, because happiness which is stimulated that way is never enough. The more you do it the more you want. Although abstinence from addiction may appear boring it brings serenity and eventually serenity becomes happiness and even bliss. This type of happiness is enough of a ‘high’ and doesn’t leave you wanting more and more.

I was a chain smoker in a time when it was
considered sophisticated to smoke
as we became more informed about
the dangers of this addiction it was
painful to consider living without the thrill
of lighting up and the rush of that first puff
however, it started to leave my mouth
with a foul taste and I new it was time
I thought it would be so boring and then
I quit with the help of Nicotine Anonymous
it’s been 18 years now since I took my last puff
and I have felt happiness and bliss that I thought
would never be possible without a cigarette
the high comes from within if you’re patient and
if you follow your passion to becoming fulfilled

Sunset Dance, photo by Eric Vallin, Béthune, France, happiness is

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Addiction and anger

Trapped, photo by Girinath Gopinath, Bangalore, India, must escapeUnresolved anger is a basic human condition which can hurt our minds and bodies. Addiction and anger feed each other in a neverending cycle. When we don’t practise skills to express our feelings appropriately then the anger that results slowly festers until it becomes uncontrollable rage. This rage has a short fuse and makes us feel trapped. The 12 Step program (AA, Alanon, NA, NicA, OA, CoDA, SLAA, SCOPE etc.) helps us to learn how to handle our feelings once we stop medicating them with substances and processes. This means identifying the problem, expressing it appropriately and then being able to walk away without being attached to the outcome. That process gives us an amazing sense of peace – serenity.

she came into the relationship as a calm woman
but the years took their toll on her
her temper reached a point when in a rage
she took off her glasses and threw them on the
carpeted floor, smashing to smithereens which
made her realise with what physical power
she had thrown them, and this frightened her
after attending Alanon for several weeks
she found her serenity again and
no one or nothing could ever make her
loose her temper again
whenever she got angry she firmly
expressed that feeling and people
knew she meant it, without a doubt
and that’s all she needed to let go of it

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Resentments

That look, photo by Betty Miller, Colorado, United States, http://fireyes.deviantart.com, inner turmoilEvery day we have mixed feelings about different matters. Resentments are strong feelings which we can bury deep within, contaminating our wellbeing. What’s worse is being in denial about doing just that. Resentments are so cunning that we can ignore their existence until it’s too late and we have surprising explosive behaviours. That’s why it’s far better to be in touch with our feelings and own them as being naturally ours, and in doing so they settle down. Then we need to observe their origin and what can be done to resolve this turmoil. The expression ‘befriend our demons’ means finding those feelings which we have suppressed, that have subsequently turned into problematic behaviour, and processing them.

she had long ago ‘befriended her demons’
as a result of intense therapy and
personal and professional development
she took pride in being a guide for others
on similar journeys of enlightenment
but she didn’t notice resentments building up
deep within, in her inner world
on the outside she was busy and happy
but something was not as it should be
she’d gained weight and had an insatiable appetite
it took 3 OA meetings a week to get real
about her buried unwanted feelings of
resentment, self pity, boredom, loneliness
which she was busy avoiding with activities
and for which she had paid the price
fortunately it didn’t take long for her
to tweak her choices back into healthy living

That look, photo by Betty Miller, http://fireyes.deviantart.com

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New Year resolutions for 2007

Happy New Year - 2007, photo by Bill Kolios, Ioannina, Greece, big celebrationAs we wish everyone Happy New Year and fill our hearts with love many of us have made New Year resolutions for 2007. Some are realistic and some are just wishful thinking. Nevertheless, both types are useful for our personal and professional development because the process makes us visualise our dreams. Visualisation is an effective tool for achieving our goals because it means we prime ourselves for taking up opportunities as they arise, otherwise we miss them. They say ‘when Opportunity knocks, open the door first and ask questions later”. When New Year resolutions crumble then find another way of achieving them. Don’t quit searching for a way to succeed.

the year before last, feeling guilty for her behaviour
she made her New Year resolutions
and then felt hopeful but that didn’t last long
because she knew how hard it was to
stay away from the trigger foods that
were the cause of most of her ill health
she was overweight, had diabetes and
what’s more she spent her money easily
which always left her broke
then she remembered to try something new
for her carbohydrate addiction
success followed and her health improved
this year’s resolutions were more joyful to list
because she had achieved some of last year’s ones

Bill Kolios, Ioannina, Greece, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/678548

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Addiction symptoms regardless of nationality

World map, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/653075, worldwide diseaseAn interesting fact is that people suffer similar addiction symptoms regardless of nationality, that is, whether we are European or Australian or Chinese and so on. The need to use or self medicate increases as the illness of addiction progresses and the illness can only be arrested by abstaining. Some of the symptoms are: depression, aggression (violence), resentments, isolation, paranoia, neediness, self-pity, poor anger management, and disorders in sleeping, eating and sexual behaviour. When feelings or behaviours are exhibited to the extreme then people would do well to explore the extent to which they use substances or processes to cope with them – this only makes those feelings worse.

during the day he was a successful businessman
but his behaviour was becoming more and more
aggressive, dishonest and unbelievably mean
towards his family, friends and staff
during the day it did not appear as though
he was drinking alcohol, but he did at night
that was the only time he was jolly
then his doctor said that his drinking had to stop
or his damaged liver would cause his death
for a few weeks he was sober and went to AA
the change in him was amazing and once more
his wife saw the man she had fallen in love with
but he was bored with his authentic self and
he gave up his recovery and that lost him his wife
his only salvation has been that
he’s minimised his drinking, however
his behaviour is obnoxious and yet
he knows what needs to be done when he’s ready

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