EATING DISORDER NEWS & REVIEW:
By Columnist Eleni Psillakis – Eating Disorder Educator and Filex 2016 Inspiration Award Winner:
Photo Credit: The ‘crushed me’ hid the ‘real me’ by Eleni Psillakis –
Eating disorders invade every part of a sufferer’s life and are often a means of coping with the effects of psychological and physical abuse. People suffering from post-traumatic stress have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder (1.) I use the terms ‘real me’ and ‘crushed me’ to show how addictive behavior contributed to starving one and feeding the other.
I lost my self-identity and did not like who I was. This disassociation caused internal pain – depression, anxiety, fear, guilt and shame – pain masked with pain relief. This relief could be in the form of legal or illegal drugs, alcohol or addictive behaviours such as excessive exercise and extreme dieting. Phobias, obsessions and compulsiveness, for any sufferer may be picked up along the way as the real self is lost. Then the addictive behaviours become the norm; what you identify with, and there is a fear to let them go, a fear of losing pain relief.
‘Crushed me’ became the lie by which I lived. In my teens, there was anxiety around every meal time, and I feared socialising as I knew I would have to deal with my fears around food. I developed phobias of certain foods. I did everything in a ritualistic manner for fear of ‘failing in my quest of being good enough’.
25 years after I physically recovered, emotions were ignited when my 21-year marriage gradually fell apart. The verbal and emotional abuse left me feeling that I was not loved for who I was but for what I did around the house and for sex. I internalised it, hated who I was, and began to deal with it using my ‘pain relief methods’. My daughter was 16 at the time, and I did not want to teach her that this was how to deal with problems. I took myself to the doctor where I had a breakdown and diagnosed with severe clinical depression.
Whether I weighed 39 kg at age 19 or 59 kg at age 45, ‘crushed me’ was alive and well while ‘real me’ was lost in a lifetime of negative self-thoughts. Treating any of the mentioned disorders in isolation, or just treating the physical issues may not solve the problem.
Real healing came when I hit rock bottom with poor decisions later in life. Psychological help that addressed many issues until ‘real me’ began to emerge again. I no longer call it ‘My Eating Disorder’. The thoughts I had of me no longer control me. They robbed enough of my life. If you feel like I did, then I urge you to seek help early, before it steals any more of your life or the life of someone you know.
About Our Eating Disorder News and Review Columnist – Eleni Psillakis
Combining over 27-years experience in the fitness industry, education and a lived experience of eating disorder, Eleni Psillakis is raising awareness of eating disorders as serious mental illnesses. In this time as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, secondary and tertiary educator, she is aware of the fine-line that may be crossed from healthy to unhealthy diet and exercise habits.
Using resistance training to gain weight to her 39kg frame at age 19, Eleni physically recovered and went on to compete in women’s bodybuilding. However the underlying emotional issues and thought patterns resurfaced 25-years later when her marriage broke down and she was diagnosed with clinical depression. Antidepressants and 8-years of psychological counselling, assisted with unlearning of negative thought processes that Eleni had of herself for most of her life. These were nothing to do with body image, but self-worth.
Resistance training again helped the process of stopping her thoughts racing during this time of depression and she stepped back onto the competition stage gaining a top 3 place in her division for each of the 5 competitions since. It was the psychological help that has made the difference this time around.
In 2016, Eleni received the ‘Inspiration Award’ at the prestigious FILEX health and fitness convention, an event that recognises excellence within the industry. Eleni won the award due to her commitment in promoting awareness of eating disorders and dedication to educating others in how to overcome feelings of self-loathing.
“An Insight to Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders for Fitness Professionals”, a seminar that Eleni has written, has been approved by Fitness Australia for continuing education.
Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.