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

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/

PhD Graduation Celebration

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, MalaysiaLast Saturday I had my PhD Celebration at the Rose Garden Pavilion in the Royal Botanic Gardens between 12.30 and 4.30. Many weddings and other celebrations are held there because it is such an attractive venue with ambiance. There were 61 people and those who wished sat on the comfortable benches around the inside of the Pavilion and others sat outside in the beautiful garden. Everyone commented on this amazing venue. I bought food from Peter’s Cafe – roasts and baked potatoes ready sliced in nice trays. Also delicious foods prepared by my daughter Tina and my daughter-in-law Nella with help from their husbands Bill and Paul. I invited guests to bring their own drinks and desserts so that individual needs could be taken care of personally, without tempting those who don’t drink alcohol and those who don’t eat sweets.

I had intended to provide dance music so that we could let our hair down and indulge in some Greek dancing as well as other dances. However, my equipment didn’t work – drats! The Pavilion has slate flooring which is ideal for dancing. I hired the Pavilion including the nearby toilet for four hours at what I thought was a reasonable fee for such a delightful place.

Well known celebrity Bruce Barry, my dear friend, played the role of MC. Bruce shared about his experience of reading my Doctoral Thesis cover to cover, and in his charming way introduced my University Supervisor and mentor – Dr. Neil Davidson who spoke about our journey together which resulted with my graduation. Neil also read emails from Professor Stuart Hill, the founding Chair for the School of Social Ecology where I began my Uni studies in 1991, and from Debbie Horsfall – my previous Supervisor and mentor. Their kind words warmed my heart. This was followed by another friend, Steve Kirkham, reading out friendly congratulations from Bob and Colleen Ellicott who reminded me of our association which began when he was the Member for Wentworth and I was a Welfare Worker in the Community Centre in Surry Hills over 30 yrs ago. Many constituents benefited from The Hon. Bob Ellicott’s monthly visits.

Community leaders and close friends also expressed their congratulations on Saturday. These were Greek speaking community workers/radio announcers Fay Giallusi, Sophia Catharios and Litsa Diakovasili as well as John August, President of the Humanist Society of NSW.

Finally, my son Paul Zagoridis who spoke on behalf of my daughter Tina and their spouses Nella and Bill respectively and their children (who all struggled along with me on my academic journey). His words filled my heart. The previous day they attended my Graduation and as I looked at them from where I was seated on the stage next to the ‘top brass’ of UWS, I felt honoured and overcome with emotion.

Another delight of the Rose Garden Celebration was having people enter their congratulations in a book chosen for that event in which I have also glued the congratulation cards received. I got home and arranged the flowers which were given to me and opened the remaining gifts. What a delightful day.

Many thanks to all who came to share my celebration. Also my thanks to the printer: MBE who produced my new coloured business card in 3 days when others said it would take 2 weeks and for giving me a discount too.

Click here to download the Affie Adagio PhD Thesis in PDF format

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, Malaysia

Lying a symptom of addiction

Cut the crap 2, photo by Steve WoodsLouanne wrote in response to my post on addiction is lying how she believes her husband is an addict and lies. When she threatens divorce “he cowers and cleans up his act for a while” but she doesn’t think he has the personal strength to admit the true problem and “get appropriate care”. She goes on to say:

Iím in such a dilemma. I would LOVE to be free from this man, but I look for answers in the bible and I believe it says to work it out. I see a lifetime of struggle and unhappiness with this man. Is that what my path is to stay in a close walk with God?

I don’t believe that working it out and “staying in a close walk with God” means the suffering of the family while a person who is addicted is in denial and does not seek appropriate help. In putting up with this behaviour you are accommodating his denial and lies. Nevertheless, when you and your daughters have had enough pain, in other words reached your ‘rock bottom’ as to what you can cope with, then you will take the steps that are necessary, based on ‘tough love’. Perhaps in the meantime it would help you to attend therapy to help you avoid enabling his addiction. Such help can be gained from an addictions therapist and/or a 12 Step support group of that compulsion such as Al Anon or Naranon or even CoDA (Codependents Anonymous).

Difference between addiction or not

Perk Me Up, photo by Gomi Lao, Baguio City, Benguet, PhilippinesI have often been asked the question put to me by Uli Bartels, the photographer for the coffee addiction post, that is, how does one know the difference between addiction or not? The answer is quite simple – when the behaviour is repeated until it becomes problematic and often life-threatening then it is addiction. In other words when a person cannot stop themselves from repeating destructive behaviour then they have become addicted. So it is far better to reduce the behaviour before it becomes harmful and then it is necessary to abstain from usage all together.

Robert told me that he knew he was not addicted
because he could go without drinking for months
I asked him when he does drink what happens and
he pulled a face as he told me that he got high
but although he drank too much
he was a ‘happy drunk’ or so he was told
because he couldn’t always remember things
then the penny dropped as he realised
that he was a problem drinker
that’s the difference between addiction or not!

Perk Me Up, photo by Gomi Lao, Baguio City, Philippines

Madness of addiction

Almost mad ii, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, Greece, insanity Addiction plays tricks with the mind, a form of insanity. People who are in denial about their addiction resent the notion that they are suffering the insanity that goes with the condition. How else can you describe the madness of addiction other than insanity, when you make yourself promises you don’t keep, when you find yourself lying, when your life becomes unmanageable and still you do the same? Is that not a form of insanity? Those of us who make it to the serenity of recovery, reach a stage when we are not ashamed of admitting that to be addicted,and remain that way, is insanity.

as I enjoy my serenity from
nicotine and food addiction
I value my freedom from being
compelled and yet not having enough
which is what the insanity of addiction
meant for me – not enough and yet
not being able to stop
so I attended 12 Step meetings
spoke about my innermost feelings
especially the ones I buried deep because
I didn’t like them for being unaccceptable
had regular visits with my therapist
and explored the madness of addiction
I remembered from the 12 Step program that
I am not responsible for my addiction but
I am responsible for my recovery
so today I carry that message as part of
my personal and professional life

Relationship with self

elisa_hiding_pose, Elisabeth Fuchs, Vienna Austria, self loathingTo have fulfilling relationships with anyone else we need to first develop a loving relationship with self. It’s the foundation for any type of love we have with others. Without the ability to love ourselves we feel emptiness or self hate which leads to needing feelgoods such as food, alcohol and other drugs or addictive processes like work, gambling, love and sex. To develop healthy self love we list our strengths and weaknesses, because that raises our self awareness – education is 50% of achieving the outcome we want. Then we list what we want out of life and what we definitely don’t want. Try it and see.

Yvonne was a pleasant person who
made friends easily but she was
extremely overweight from using
food to medicate her resentments
at times she appeared “sickly sweet”
and so apologetic that it seemed
she was even apologising for breathing
that is codependent behaviour and
can only lead to unhappiness
as she got into recovery from codependency
she developed her relationship with herself
in listing her strengths and weaknesses
as well as her wants and needs in life
her self esteem was strengthened and
in time her relationships with others
became more fulfilling
eventually she lost a lot of weight because
she didn’t need to self medicate with food

elisa_hiding_pose, photo by Elisabeth Fuchs, Vienna Austria

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

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

Anger can heal

Feel my pain, photo by Nara Vieira da Silva Osga, Manaus, Brazil, painful emotionsWe run away from pain, that’s a normal human reaction to overwhelming feelings. Anger is one of the emotions that we don’t want to feel and so we often suppress it to the point that we think we don’t have it. Emotions that are buried will only explode like a volcano when we least expect them and often over insignificant events. Anger can heal if it’s reframed and used as positive energy – a popular strategy used in sports training. When feelings are ignored they cause us ill health and or lead to our need to self medicate with substances or processes which can eventually end in unmanageability and addiction.

at a rehab hospital the group worked on
how they dealt with their feelings
the facilitator kept probing Joe
who always appeared calm yet he
suffered from an addiction
finally Joe raised his voice demanding
what was expected of him?
the facilitator responded “that!”
meaning that Joe needed to be more
in touch with his feelings and express himself,
a basic tool for assertiveness training and recovery