Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.
Rethink your body
To get the freedom to live the life you want
by Harriet Frew on September 17th, 2018

​When someone you care about develops an eating disorder,  it should not be under-estimated how stressful it can be.

You might feel hopeless, scared and upset, wanting desperately to help, whilst feeling unequipped to do so.

Maybe you have already tried to help, but found that your input has not been welcomed by your loved one.

by Harriet Frew on August 31st, 2018

​Florence Welch Opening up About Eating Disorders gives Hope to Others 

The recent comments from the singer Florence Welch about how she “started to starve herself” at the age of 17 may have shocked some– but they will have resonated with many others regardless of whether they are fans of her music or not.

Someone in the public eye opening up about an eating disorder - and documenting her struggles in a recent song, Hunger – should be applauded.

She’s young, successful – and proves that eating disorders can affect anyone. 

The charity Beat believes about 1.25m people in the UK have an eating disorder with the condition often developing during adolescence.

Florence’s words certainly struck a chord with me. I’m a therapist now, but when I was 17-years-old, I had bulimia.

My eating disorder started out as an innocent diet, following painful rejection from my first love. 

It could have remained as just a diet, but I was already vulnerable. The seeds of meagre self-worth and inadequacy - sown years previously – meant my resilience was limited. Emotionally, it was devastating.

Restricting my eating was an attempt to feel better, as it was Florence. It was a coping strategy, although I didn’t realise it then. So what can we learn?

An emotional issue
Eating disorders are not about vanity or being a certain dress size. They are emotional problems. They are complex, psychological illnesses – and the numbers are rising.

Masking something far deeper 
We know that young people are under intense pressure. Research from the Prince’s Trust shows that some feel powerless, and are anxious about their future. So they look to the things they can control. But an eating disorder is an often unconscious plaster concealing a much deeper wound.

Help and hope is out there
Eating disorders are treatable illnesses through psychological treatment, and – as with all physical or mental health conditions – the earlier the intervention, the higher the opportunity of a full recovery. 

Personally, I recovered in my mid-20 through a combination of sources - therapy, friendships, reading and trial and error. Today, the condition is much more recognised and understood. Psychological therapy gives people the tools for change.

We can’t hide from it – and it can no longer be taboo to talk about.

More people like Florence Welch speaking out will help others gain the strength to know they are not alone and seek help.

Thanks Andy Burrows at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust for input on this blog post.

by Harriet Frew on August 16th, 2018

It began with finishing off the fish fingers on your toddler’s plate – ‘I don’t want to waste food’. But before you know it, you’ve gone on to demolish three custard creams and a couple of pieces of toast and jam. You are now guiltily rummaging through the children’s snack box searching for something else. You know that you’re not the least bit hungry (not anymore) but you can’t seem to stop.

No-one knows you’re eating – you feel incredibly guilty, ashamed and out of control. You don’t want the kids to know. Only five minutes ago, you were telling them ‘only 1 biscuit – that’s enough’. You’re so confused. Why has this happened? Most of the time, you have a pretty, run-of-the-mill healthy routine with food. You feel horribly out of control and a very bad Mum.
Before you write yourself off as a terrible mother, lacking self-control or willpower, pause, take a breath and stand back.

by Harriet Frew on July 22nd, 2018

​How do some people recover, whilst others remain stuck?
There is no simple answer.
BUT, there is something that helps significantly in determining positive outcomes.
It is something that can be easily lost, through the ups and downs of struggling with eating.
It helped me put my eating issues behind me for good.
What am I talking about?
When working with a client recently, they had lost all hope. They felt despondent and discouraged. They had given up. They felt resigned to the eating disorder. They had given up the fight.
Consequently, the eating problem raged on. Symptoms were worse, as was sleep, mood and isolation.
I felt for them, sitting in the hole of despair. When you’re in the hole, it can feel as if there is no way out.
I have felt hopeless sometimes. I’m sure you have too.
But, if you can find your hope again, it could change your whole future.
In my own recovery, I held tightly to hope. I always believed that recovery was possible. I didn’t know how or when I was going to come through it, but I didn’t accept this as my lot. I wanted more than a life that may have become safe, but was also destroying me.
Why having hope will propel you forwards: -
You will believe there is a way out of this. This produces a powerful and proactive mindset. Instead, of feeling trapped, you will look for answers to solve problems and seek out solutions.
In my own journey, I used therapy. I talked to trusted friends who understood. I read articles and self-help books. I ready recovery stories. I watched videos.
No ‘one thing’ was the solution, but together, these provided a drip-drip of new and different perspectives. All were a little investment and contributing building block to change.
Hope helps you create a vision of a brighter and better life, even if you have no idea of how you might achieve this. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the specifics, but daring to dream helps you understand what is important to you and lifts you up in your energy and ideas.
Hope helps you set mini goals and think about the future.  The risk of change becomes worth it. You seek out other hopeful travellers and encourage each other along. You distance yourself from the downers and energy sappers. You seek to hold on to the hope you have ignited.
If you are not feeling hopeful right now, don’t ever give up.
Think about how you can begin to feel a teeny-weeny bit more hopeful. Where can you begin?
Feel empowered that you have some control over your feelings of hopefulness. However, despondent you feel, somewhere within you is a little pilot light of hope, waiting to be revitalized again.
Stay hopeful. It will get through recovery.

by Harriet Frew on July 17th, 2018

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Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.