George Michael…. what matters most?

If there is one thing I know about the nature of addiction or obsessive compulsive behaviours is that they are all consuming and they take control.  No matter what you have in your life, no matter what you achieve, no matter what you are interested in, no matter if you are talented, no matter if you are rich, no matter if you are poor, no matter if you are part of a family, no matter if you have no family, no matter if you own a luxurious property, no matter if you are homeless, no matter is you have children…… it all doesn’t  matter because WHAT MATTERS MOST is the addictive behaviour or substance, this matters, this matters very much and is the single most important thing in that persons’ life.  It is the most important thing above everything else.

It is clever and cunning and friendly and powerful.  It will destroy your heart and soul but will take much much longer to destroy you physically.  It comes in many disguises and the greatest disguise of all is inside a talented, gifted individual who has reached the dizzying heights of stardom, the frantic frenetic world of fame and fortune and it will still consume that individual in the dark recesses of their mind and it will be absolutely WHAT MATTERS MOST.

As it destroys self-esteem and self-worth the individual becomes trapped in a cycle of shame and guilt and the only remedy for that is to escape and the ultimate form of escape is addictive obsessive compulsive behaviour because it removes the individual from reality and creates another world.  

George Michael wanted to escape and never truly learned to stay put and learn about himself.  He never gave himself a chance to achieve freedom from his obsessions. I believe that the drink and drugs were the medication used to deal with difficult relationships, poor body image, low self-esteem and an empty soul.  I feel sad saying that but that is my professional and personal opinion.  He gave to others but was unable to give to himself.  He gave the world his music and his creativity.  He gave to charities …. but WHAT MATTERS MOST is what you give to yourself.  If George Michael had treated himself the way he treated others and gave to himself what he gave to the world I believe he would still be here today.

WHAT MATTERS MOST GEORGE MICHAEL?  IT’S YOU …….R.I.P

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Can the 12-step model offer hope to the millions of people who are overweight?

My Story

 

The Beginning

In my early teens I went on my first diet which triggered 16 years of yo-yo dieting and resulted in a lifelong battle to lose weight.

Over 25 years ago in my early thirties I was still struggling to lose weight but by then I couldn’t even do one day of a diet.  By the time I had finished breakfast I was looking for something else to eat – even though I had all good intentions to stick to the diet this time.  My thought process was simple I was not going to overeat as I so desperately wanted to lose weight.  But as the meal was coming to an end I felt dissatisfied and restless and was looking for something sweet to fill the hole, to achieve instant gratification, to escape my anxious state, to cope with boredom, to block out painful memories, to alter how I felt, to procrastinate, to avoid dealing with chores…..to simply remove myself and create a numb state that felt strangely comfortable and familiar. This I, of course, did not recognise at the time it was just an automatic behaviour that had grown and got worse over time.  What I did recognise, however, is how it left me feeling – full of guilt and shame, unhappy, angry, let down … I hated myself and beat myself up for being a failure once again.

On the outside, all looked normal and I hid behind my respectable lifestyle.  I wore a mask and got on with being a mum, wife, friend, volunteer but I had two personas.  Once again, I could not recognise any of this at the time.  All I recognised was that I was unable to maintain weight loss and even worse I always put on more weight after each diet, until as I described above I couldn’t even stick one day to a diet.  Not only did I not stick to a diet but I binged and could not stop until I was in physical pain.  I used diet pills, abused laxatives and exercised excessively to try and stop myself from putting on too much weight.  That was my life, a cycle of yo-yo dieting, excessive exercise, slimming pills and binge eating.

The Rock Bottom

I had two beautiful babies, a golden retriever, a husband who loved me and provided security, kind parents, good friends, lovely home, wonderful holidays………. But inside I was not happy or content.  I disliked myself especially my body and I strived to be like the “beautiful people” (whoever they are!?) I compared myself to everybody’s outsides and lifestyles.  I felt empty, lonely and disconnected BUT no one knew because I was a brilliant actor and turned up for life on time and appeared organised and efficient. Inside I was disorganised, chaotic and panicky.  Like the ducks gliding elegantly across the pond with their feet madly paddling in order to move smoothly on the surface.

How could I feel lonely with friends and family surrounding me?  I felt lonely because I felt disconnected.  I had no great childhood trauma.  I had a father who worked extremely hard (if there were 8 days in a week he would be out there working) and I had a beautiful mother who cared and loved me but also suffered from yo-yo dieting and obsession with food restriction (which I can now see).  So perhaps no great attachment with them so I turned to food and all the extreme behaviours I described to try and feel connected with something.

No one knew for over 16 years this is how I lived.  Day in day out a cycle that I couldn’t break out of but somehow gave me something until it didn’t anymore

One Christmas we were yet on another wonderful holiday in Jamaica on a stunning beach in a 5 star hotel (with all the “beautiful people”) and I felt like an outsider, I didn’t want to be there and I struggled to be sociable, BUT I put on the mask and turned up for life.

However, I spoke to myself very harshly: ‘pull yourself together’ ‘what have you got to be so unhappy about?’ ‘look at where you are, how lucky are you?’ ‘what is your problem?’ ‘why are you so ungrateful?’  This language made me feel even worse and such a failure and just catapulted me into my addictive behaviours even more. I hated myself, I didn’t know what to do and today I recognise that as my Rock Bottom.

 

I came home to a dark and rainy January in England and was beside myself to lose weight and find the miracle cure.  I opened the (then!) Yellow Pages Directory (no Google!) and looked for yet another slimming club/diet cure etc and was looking at the Community Pages at the front of the directory and came across The Samaritans, Alcoholics Anonymous and something called Overeaters Anonymous.  I had no understanding of addiction/eating disorders etc but something drew me to call the contact number for Overeaters Anonymous.  The lady on the end of the line didn’t tell me anything about the meeting or what the 12 step programme was about, she simply told me her story and her struggles and I thought she had been following me all my life.  There were too many similarities and I was stunned by her honesty and the fact that I had met someone who I felt CONNECTED to.

The 12 Step Meeting of Overeaters Anonymous

I went to my first meeting over 25 years ago and I found peace and a common bond with people who understood me and I could totally and utterly relate and identify with.  They supported me and were kind to me and in turn I believe I gave back to them by accepting them into my life and allowing them to help me with the programme.  A wonderful saying in life is “what we give out we will get back” what these people gave out were non-judgemental acceptance and I did not feel alone anymore.  I learnt a new way of leading my life.  I learnt tools to deal with my cravings.  I learnt so much about me that I was then able to make changes to enhance my life.  I ate 3 meals a day with life in between and I have never looked back.

Today my life is totally different.  I am no longer obsessed with dieting and no longer binge.  I have freedom from obsessive thoughts around overeating and I respect myself and my body.  My weight is almost stable!

The End (aka The Continuing Journey)

I know that I am inclined to use food as a comforter and crutch and that is something that will always be my default setting but knowing this has set me free.  I know that I must take care of myself for the rest of my life the same as an alcoholic who needs to take care of themselves.  So, I am in recovery and am happy to give back with the work I do and help others with the same condition.  A condition I believe I was probably born with – a biopsychosociospiritual disease which has to be arrested, One Day At A Time, together connected with others in the same situation.

…..to be continued……..

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Binge Eating, Anorexia, Bulimia – they are all about CONTROL

I work in a group setting with Overeaters, Anorexics, Bulimics and everything else in between. I work with people who have an unhealthy relationship with food but more importantly an unhealthy relationship with themselves. I work with this group together because they all have one thing in common – the need to feel in control. If they feel in control then they feel safe and can cope with all that life throws at them.
More importantly they can avoid the feelings that they experience going through life.
This is why we often hear the saying “functioning addict” because they function at a level where they do not have to experience uncomfortable feelings and deal with them. They can escape from them using whatever ‘drug’ works for them. “….Comfortably numb….” to quote a Pink Floyd song!
BINGE EATING – clients talk about being out of control when they are bingeing but I challenge them to look at what it is they are controlling. When in a binge-state, clients talk about being unaware of what is going on around them, they talk about food being like an anesthetic, they talk about using food as an escape from reality. These descriptions illustrate how this client group are using bingeing to CONTROL their feelings.
ANOREXIA – As we all know, this behaviour is the ultimate in control. But once again clients describe being in their own world and not having to experience reality when they are acting out in their anorexia. The preoccupation is huge and takes up all their thoughts. They do not have to deal with the feelings that are produced when they experience stress/anxiety or even excitement. They can CONTROL their feelings in their illness.
BULIMIA – The ultimate release from strong feelings – this is what many of my clients say. The act of vomiting gets rid of strong feelings and makes the person feels calm. This is how many of my clients have described their experience of bulimia. There is also huge preoccupation and planning which takes the person away from reality.
ALL THESE DISORDERS ARE LINKED WITH THE NEED TO CONTROL FEELINGS AND ESCAPE REALITY.
ALL ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOUR IS ABOUT THE NEED TO CONTROL FEELINGS AND ESCAPE REALITY.
Drug addiction, compulsive gambling, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, sex addiction, alcoholism – they are all linked with the need to control feelings…………..that is why the solution to all these can be the same.
To learn to accept reality, To learn to deal with feelings and not hide from them. To learn to cope with life without using any escape mechanism.
To learn to change thought processes and behaviours in order to achieve all the above.
This can all be found in a 12-step programme.

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Exposed:The sick truth behind the great ‘wellness’ blog craze – Daily Mail, 16/08/2015

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3199258/Exposed-sick-truth-great-wellness-blog-craze-taking-social-media-storm-one-online-star-battling-secret-fitness-addiction.html

“Celia Learmonth is one of a handful of bloggers with thousands of fans……At 21 she is enviably lithe but admits to seeking help at an eating clinic” Daily Mail, 16/08/2015
I could relate and identify very much with this story. Unfortunately it reminded me of my actions and behaviours when I hid behind an eating disorder as a fully qualified fitness instructor. That was a long time ago.
Today I am 56 and have been in recovery for the past 25 years.
When I was in my late teens/early twenties I looked “perfect” on the outside, giving out healthy advice and running exercise classes but there was another side to me…. the addiction to exercise, slimming pills, bingeing and obsessive weighing, yo-yo dieting, severe restricting and use of laxatives to purge my food. I was preoccupied with food and weight issues 24/7 – but I looked good on the outside.
So I could really relate to this article and then it got me thinking…. What about the amount of alcoholism, nicotine addiction and obesity in the NHS? What about professionals in positions of power who are meeting prostitutes in the dead of night? What about the bankers who are commiting fraud? ………..WHO IS ACTUALLY PRACTICING WHAT THEY PREACH?
Answer : Recovering addicts who are fully qualified professional counsellors ……….. that’s who!!!
http://www.thelivingroom.me.uk

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NHS OFFERING ZUMBA CLASSES AND HEALTHY COOKERY LESSONS TO THE OBESE

Who came up with this brilliant idea?……. The NHS is now supplying the funding to offer zumba classes and cookery classes to help the obese. I am so speechless I actually do not know where to begin. At the risk of repeating myself – obesity is complex. If it was just about cooking healthily and dancing then we wouldn’t have any obesity in the country at all! Because it really is that simple isn’t it? There are hundreds and hundreds of cookery programmes on tv, free healthy recipes on line and in newspapers. We can dance around our kitchen while we are cooking and be slim. So it’s easy isn’t it? …..
Apologies for my sarcasm……..but when is the NHS gong to provide funding for GP’s to look at obesity as a more complex problem. An obese person overeats it is as simple as that, but what is complicated is why they overeat to such an extent that they become severely overweight. That is the complex issue that needs to be addressed, not dance classes and cookery lessons. Obesity can be as a result of binge eating/emotional eating/food addiction. It involves using food as a crutch, using food to change emotions, using food to alleviate boredom, using food to deal with stress, using food as a reward – and yes a lot of the population who are not overweight probably use food for all the above, however, we are dealing with a different group of people. We are dealing with obesity and the serious negative consequences that are a result of overeating. We are dealing with people who may have tried over and over again to lose weight and not succeeded. The negative consequences are many not just health but there are often social problems, relationship breakdowns, possible employment difficulties, lack of motivation possibly affecting the work place or education, low self-esteem, low self-worth .These are the issues that need to be looked at…… IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT WEIGHT …

When will the NHS start to recommend Overeaters Anonymous (www.oagb.org.uk) as a support group for those struggling with obesity? They recommend Alcoholics Anonymous – don’t they? When are they going to offer a complete package of treatment, which will include healthy eating and activity but also must absolutely include psychological treatment to help patients deal with the serious problem of obesity?
Rochelle Craig
http://www.piecebypiecerecovery.co.uk

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CPD TRAINING 2015 FOR OBESITY

Are you working with obese clients? Are they on the cycle of dieting and putting on weight?
Have you considered finding out about 12-step approach to weight loss?
I feel that all our clients deserve choices and there aren’t many choices for obese patients. They tend to be offered healthy eating plans and exercise plans.
Nothing is offered psychologically or emotionally.
I am not saying that this is the treatment that is going to work for everyone, but as we all know, when dealing with any compulsive behaviour one size does definitely not fit all. It is a powerful feeling to have an urge to eat and then once starting being unable to stop. It is a powerful feeling to rely on food as a coping mechanism or to deal with uncomfortable feelings or indeed to deal with any feelings at all. These are the areas that need to be looked at when working with this specific client group.
Let’s give them choices, help them to explore themselves through the 12-step programme of Overeaters Anonymous UK.
Learn about it yourself! It will do you good!!
It did me………..please read previous blog with more details of training and look at my website http://www.piecebypiecerecovery,co.uk

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2014-CPD-Therapeutic Interventions for Working with Obesity

This CPD workshop provides a treatment programme for working with obesity looking at food addiction and binge eating disorder.

This training programme is fully endorsed by BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

To gain an understanding of a therapeutic treatment for obesity, incorporating the 12-step facilitation model and to understand how to integrate the model into your own practice.

CONTENTS

  • What has research demonstrated?
  • Comparison between compulsive overeating/binge eating disorder and DSM-V substance dependence criteria
  • Cycle of Addiction
  • Characteristics of binge eating disorder (BED)
  • Addictive behaviours often associated and connected with BED
  • Group Therapy and 12-step Groups
  • Family/Personal history
  • The solution
  • Interactive Group Workshop
  • Abstinence – what is it?
  • Introduction and overview of the 12-Step Facilitation Model and its use during and after therapeutic treatment
  • Integration
  • Thought for the Day

DATES AND VENUES:

9.30am-3.30pm

Saturday 29th March – The Minster Centre, 20 Lonsdale Road, Queens Park, NW6 6RD

Saturday 26th April – The Living Room, Rear of 156 Hatfield Road, St. Albans, Hertfordshire. AL1 4JD

Please see my website for further details:

www.piecebypiecerecovery.co.uk

Rochelle Craig MSc

roch.c@btinternet.com

 

 

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