anorexia article

Mary’s Story
Mary was in her forties and had survived many years of living with anorexia. I was immediately drawn to her. She was a sweet, funny, shy, intelligent woman. The great love of her life was her two cats.

Her body was ravaged by anorexia symptoms – her electrolytes constantly out of balance, she suffered from osteoporosis, her skin was chronically dry and therefore prone to infections … but that’s not what stood out about her. There was something delightful about her quiet voice, I loved the stories she told about her cats – and she was a truly and deeply caring person.

I met her when her illness had moved out of a stage of being chronically life threatening. She was under the constant care of an incredibly knowledgeable and caring physician at one of Vancouver’s eating disorders programs.

Ready to move on
Already a capable and reliable volunteer at a women’s shelter, she was ready to move on to more activity in her life. I feel fortunate that this is when I met her. Through a series of conversations, we figured out what was important in her life right now, and then we looked for a way to incorporate more of it. The result? She now works for a craft store.

“My life is so much fuller now,” she told me the other day. We talked a lot about what’s important for Mary and found out that she enjoyed a number of things – her cats, of course, as well as reading, going for walks, helping people, and doing crafts.

It was when talking about crafts that her voice became really animated. She got into quite a bit of detail when she told the story of the first time she found a knitting pattern for a winter outfit for little dogs.

I love this part of my job! I love listening to people talking about things that really matter to them. When they do, there’s colour in their words, and smells and sounds – better than watching a movie!

Finding the right fit
It was obvious that we had hit the jackpot. The next thing was imagining what it would be like to work with crafts – that’s when we came up with the idea of working in a craft store. It helped that she had some experience working a cash register. But what was really important was to think about what it would be like emotionally and physically to work in such an environment.

With Mary’s volunteering and medical schedule, and still needing to deal with her anorexia symptoms on a day-to-day basis, a full-time job was out of the question. For a lot of people with anorexia, part of dealing with it is to keep the perfectionist monster at bay. A full-time job would soon wake it up. That’s when we found that little craft store, where she now works a few days a week. And guess what – it specializes in crocheting and knitting, which is perfect for Mary and her little dog clothes!

Understanding anorexia
I’ve met a lot more people with anorexia over the years. Interestingly, there seems to be a bit of an attraction. Even though I personally have never struggled with undereating, there’s something that I “get” about anorexia. Somewhere at a gut level, I feel I can really understand the body image that is so different from how everyone else sees you, the desire to control the world around you through refusing to eat, the ever-increasing stepping-up of getting thinner, thinner, thinner …

It’s about being a person
Here is how I see it: even if you are struggling with anorexia (or with what looks like anorexia symptoms), you are still you. You are a person, a person with interests, fears, preferences, dislikes, with your own set of views about the world, with your own way of making people laugh, think, and talk. That’s far more important than the label of “anorexic”.

That means that no matter what, we can connect on the human level. Give me a call or send me an email if you’re interested in talking about that.

And take care!

Isabella Mori
Counselling in Vancouver

13 thoughts on “anorexia article

  1. kelly

    I started being an anorexic four years ago and was forced two years ago to change my eating. I did not know how to eat healthy without resticting. Since then I have gained lots of weight. Not looking necessarly to loose wieght but to loose body fat% I have become a much healtier eater. I am an athlete all year around and runner. I don’t eat meat, eat a very low fat diet and try to eat whole grains and everything. Yet still my fat % has stayed the same basicly. My mom keeps telling me this is becuase after starving myself my body still is holding on to fat in reaction and this is normal for recovering anorexics. Is this true? I want to know so I will quit feeling so bad and know to keep on doing what I am doing or if I need to work harder. I am not look to be 20 pounds lighter again just more athletic.

  2. Amy

    I was wondering what some common symptoms of recovering from annorexia are. Like bloating and constipation. My doctor’s just say every one is different. But I am so bloated and my stomach is firm and I want to know if this will go away. And what other things should I expect…

  3. Stay Healthy

    Since mass media has become so ubiquitous (TV, internet) people have inevitably compared themselves to the images of “perfect” people they see in the media.

  4. Samantha

    My sister has begun more or less starving herself trying to lose weight. She’s probably around average weight for her size but she’s convinced herself that she is fat and nothing anybody will say can change her mind. At first I thought it was just some childish act but today I walked in on her intentionally throwing up. Im so worried about her but I don’t know what to do 🙁

    Samantha’s last blog post..Disney Scrapbook Supplies

  5. Sherry Brescia

    Eating disorders are very serious, as I am starting to find out. I have a sister who battled with anorexia when she was in her late teens. She’s now in her early 30’s, eats very healthy and does moderate exercise every day. She’s also married and ready to have children. After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for a few months, she went in for an evaluation and some tests. She found out that she did some pretty serious damage during her anorexic period, and may never be able to have children of her own. They are looking into adoption, but she’s still very sad.

  6. Rachel

    okays, im 14 years old and im 5’7 i weigh 9 stone and 7 pounds.
    im scard in case i go fat, so ive been running regular and going toi the gym, i skipp meals at times and when i do have dinnner i only eat about half the portion… my parents have been gettin on my back saying ill become anorexic if i carry on the way i do, i dont eat because imnot hungry is this right?
    please help, email me at [email address edited out]
    thanks, xxx

  7. isabella mori

    hello everyone, and thanks for all the comments.

    just thought i’d let you know that i tend to answer a lot of these types of comments privately – that’s why there are not many comments from me here.

    if you have made a comment, would like some reaction but haven’t heard from me yet, please let me know!

  8. Lavender

    I think it is so sad that we all feel pressure to be perfect – with terrible results. This even has odd reprocussions. I know a friend who is naturally very thin, and she gets acused of having eating issues when she doesn’t have them.

  9. WonderingSoul

    I’ve watched my 30 year old sister mercilessly attempt to starve herself to death for 16 years.
    I have loved her, hated her, raged, wept, broken and all the rest.
    Now it’s hard to feel anything for her at all.
    It’s complex. This illness.
    In the last year something has happened to me that I find impossible to comprehend. I have begun to struggle with food and wanting to be very very very small.

    I have no idea what to do about this.
    I’m in therapy (as of the last 2 months) but there seems to be little point fussing about the food thing because I have no desire to stop.

    I don’t really know what to do.

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