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Our Mental Health Blogs

Choosing Health at Every Size (HAES)

Choosing Health at Every Size (HAES)

I can always stand to lose a few pounds. I love food and may easily drift into an increasingly sedentary lifestyle without realizing it until my body aches with disuse and my jeans are too tight. Lately I’ve been practicing what I now recognize as a kind of Health at Every Size (HAES) approach.

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Taking Back Our Bodies: Challenging Female Body Image Issues

Taking Back Our Bodies: Challenging Female Body Image Issues

Body image consists of our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about our bodies, how we believe others see our bodies, and how we feel inside our bodies. When we see ourselves accurately, accept the way we look, and feel good about our bodies, we have a positive body image. But many of us, perhaps particularly women and girls, don’t like the way we look and struggle daily to meet the unrealistic, impossible demands we place on ourselves. And for some, distorted body image can lead to depression, even eating disorders. The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute in New York City is taking action by acknowledging and valuing the diversity of women and girl’s bodies, and challenging the visual culture that fosters female body image issues.

Exploring Female Body Image Issues

3323178919_d834d7f0f1_o1Today on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, we’re talking with Carol Bloom, one of the co-founders of the WTCI. We invited her to join us for a frank discussion about female body image issues and how exploring those issues can help women and girls honor their diversity and take back their bodies. As a part of their ongoing mission to sponsor educational programs for practitioners and the general public, the Women’s Therapy Centre Institute is hosting an international campaign with summits taking place in 5 cities. The upcoming New York Summit is this weekend and will feature speakers, entertainment, videos, and the “Loved Bodies, Big Ideas” contest winner presentations:

Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body
Friday, March 18 6-9pm and Saturday, March 19 9am -pm
New School  – 66 West 12th St

Visit the Endangered Species website for more information on the campaign, and for news and links on female body image issues. Learn more about body image and take the Body Image Questionnaire by visiting the HealthyPlace Eating Disorders Community.

Video on Female Body Image Issues

Watch our video interview with Carol live today at 5:30pm Eastern Standard Time by visiting the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show Homepage. Join the discussion by submitting your questions for Carol via the chat window just to the right of the live video feed.

You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.

Share Your Experiences

Do you struggle with body image issues? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on body image issues. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Understanding Exercise Addiction

Understanding Exercise Addiction

Like millions of other Americans, I don’t get enough exercise. I’m more keenly aware of that fact in the month of January, when every gym and athletic goods store ramps up their advertising efforts to take advantage of the New Year fitness fever. But that doesn’t mean I’ll do anything about it. Ultimately, it’s just not that important to me. For some people, the opposite is true – exercise is one of the most important things to them. Does that mean they have an exercise addiction? How do you know if you’re over-exercising?

What Is Exercise Addiction?

A behavioral addiction, like gambling or sex, exercise addiction is not recognized as a diagnosable disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). But excessive exercise is mentioned in connection with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by engaging in compensatory behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising in order to prevent weight gain.

susan-mooreWe asked Susan Moore, the Program and Exercise Coordinator at The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, to join us on this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show and help us better understand exercise addiction. The Renfrew Center is a women’s mental health center, specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, depression, and other women’s issues. As Program and Exercise Coordinator, Susan manages exercise and group therapy programs, facilitates exercise groups, and assists residents in developing an exercise plan upon discharge.

Video on Exercise Addiction

Watch our video interview with Susan live today at 3pm Eastern Standard Time by visiting the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show Homepage. Join the discussion by submitting your questions for Susan via the chat window just to the right of the live video feed.

You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.

Share Your Exercise Addiction Experiences

Are you or a loved one addicted to over-exercising? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on exercise addiction. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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It’s Time to Talk about Binge Eating Disorder

It’s Time to Talk about Binge Eating Disorder

When I think of eating disorders I think of anorexia and bulimia. I think of starvation and compulsive exercising. I’ve heard of binge eating disorder (BED), but binge eaters aren’t forefront in my mind when I hear the words “eating disorder.” Watching our video interview with Chevese Turner, founder and president of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, I discovered that my ideas about eating disorders are sorely out of balance.

cheveewebversionBinge Eating Disorder Is More Prevalent than Anorexia or Bulimia

I suspect I’m not alone in my ignorance about the prevalence of binge eating disorder. Many binge eaters suffer in silence, unaware of the millions who also struggle with the symptoms of binge eating disorder. Chevese Turner started the Binge Eating Disorder Association when she realized just how many people it affects.

I was searching the Internet and came across a study from Harvard that reported 3.5% of women and 1.5% of men in the US had BED.

Binge eating accounts for the largest group of those affected by eating disorders. In fact, it makes up three times the number of anorexics and bulimics combined.

Why Aren’t We Talking about Binge Eating Disorder?

It stands to reason that a disorder affecting an estimated 9 to 15 million individuals would get plenty of attention. But when it comes to eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia are the headliners. My guess is there are a lot of reasons for that, including:

  • Time. Binge eating disorder is still the new kid on the block, so to speak. It’s a relatively recent diagnosis, compared with anorexia in particular which was first considered a disease in the late 19th century.
  • Misconceptions. Because most binge eaters don’t look the way we expect the eating disordered to – underweight and malnourished – their plight often goes unnoticed.
  • Shame. Mental illness and shame are old bedfellows, and binge eating disorder isn’t breaking the mold there. Ashamed of binge eating, many people keep it a secret.

No matter the reasons for all the silence, binge eating disorder affects too many people to stay hidden. Says Chevese:

Millions of individuals suffer in silence, because they do not realize that they have an eating disorder. Those who are overweight or obese are told they are fat and are dually battling weight bias. Others suffer inside a “normal” weight body …. It is time to talk about binge eating disorder and bring help and hope to those who need it. Please join me.

Video on Binge Eating Disorder

Watch Chevese Turner discuss binge eating disorder and her own experiences with binge eating in our binge eating disorder video interview with her.

You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.

Share Your Binge Eating Disorder Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with binge eating disorder? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Eating Disorder Recovery: How One Woman Found Freedom

Eating Disorder Recovery: How One Woman Found Freedom

From Nina, our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show:

My Eating Disorder Recovery Story

I went on my first diet in 2000. I lost a lot of weight but grew disturbingly obsessed with food and dropping even more weight. I stopped going out, I lost friends, I refused to eat out at restaurants and my weight plummeted to a new low, where I lost my period and had to be hospitalized.

nina-profile-picture-257x300The years that followed saw my diet and weight loss obsession increase, but I started to lose the control I once had. Binge eating started – first it was a one-off, and then increased to a weekly “treat.” Eventually it was a daily happening that I had no control over. I gained a massive amount of weight and was unable to stay on any diet that I tried.

Desperate for Eating Disorder Recovery

My personal rock bottom was knowing that I would die if I continued to live this way. I knew that there would be no way I could have a child, a relationship, a job, or care about anything other than food and my weight.

I wanted to live – to be able to enjoy life, to go out, to travel, to have a relationship without constant thoughts of what I was and wasn’t going to eat, how much weight I was planning to lose and calculating how many hours I would need to spend at the gym to burn off the excess calories.

How I Found Recovery from an Eating Disorder

  • I saw therapists.
  • I talked about about my circumstances in support groups.
  • I wrote in a journal.
  • I learned to meditate.
  • I asked for help when needed.

I also had to move away from the dieting mentality and towards health. I knew that every time I tried to heavily restrict my eating, the result was more binge eating and self-hatred. I had to change my relationship with food, to view it as non-threatening and to trust my internal hunger signals.

I now consider myself recovered from eating disorders and a healthy, intuitive eater. I eat food that I actually like, I have a healthy body, and I exercise because it makes me feel amazing.

I hope to help others who are struggling by passing on the message that complete eating disorder recovery is possible. I was always trying to find someone who had been through the same hell as me and had recovered to a point where they had a healthy relationship with food, no longer obsessed and controlled by it. I do live this way and I hope to reach others who are struggling and let them know that they can too – there is a way out.

Video on Eating Disorder Recovery

Watch our eating disorder recovery video interview with Nina, “I Fully Recovered from Anorexia and Bulimia” on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show Homepage.

Visit Nina’s website for more about her experiences with eating disorders and recovery.

And here’s the table of contents for all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

Share Your Eating Disorder Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with an eating disorder? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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Seduced by Anorexia Nervosa

Seduced by Anorexia Nervosa

Why would a person purposefully starve, even to the point of death? “There is something very seductive about not eating very much, thinking that those around you are weak and have to eat,” says Angela Lackey, our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show and the author of Leaving ED, a blog documenting her recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. “It makes you feel strong and special; you don’t think about the fact that you can die from anorexia and that many people do die from anorexia.”

in-my-backyard2-sept-21-2010My Anorexia Nervosa Story (from Angela Lackey)

In the fall of 2006, when I was 41-years-old, I developed such severe migraines that I had to be taken to the emergency room several times a month for pain and anti-nausea shots. The migraines were so bad that I would throw up five to six times, sometimes more, and sometimes was given IV fluids for dehydration. I started to rapidly drop weight, often two to three pounds a week, without trying.

In July 2007, just after I turned 42, I had a diagnosis – hyperparathyroidism. I had dropped 20 pounds and weighed 104-105 pounds.

I looked at my naked body in the mirror, stripped of 20 pounds, and was utterly frightened by how I looked. I turned to my husband and said,”I hope you don’t expect me to diet to maintain this ridiculously low weight.”

Many people thought 105 pounds was just the perfect size for me, and I got many compliments on my “slender, delicate, tiny” figure. I started thinking, “I must have been fat before, that’s why all these people are now telling me how great I look.” I began to get scared that I would gain the weight back and become “fat” at 125 pounds. The fear took hold and wouldn’t let go, so I started cutting food. First it was a little bit here, a little bit there. As I wouldn’t feel hungry, I would cut a little bit more.

Then came the Holidays of 2007. My husband and I had friends over for dinner. I was still trying to eat somewhat normal, although my husband and I were already arguing over the amount of butter to put in the rice. By then, I knew I not only wanted to maintain my slimmer figure, I wanted to lose a few more pounds. Still, I tried to eat normal and succeeded. And right after that dinner, even before the company had left, I marched into the bathroom, closed the door, and swallowed a half-packet of laxatives to get rid of the food. I’ve not eaten normal since that day. I was 42.

Anorexia Nervosa Video

Watch our anorexia video interview with Angela Lackey on De-romanticizing Anorexia.

And here’s the table of contents for all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

Share Your Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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PTSD: What’s It Like Living with PTSD?

PTSD: What’s It Like Living with PTSD?

PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. The general public used to associate PTSD with soldiers in war zones. Now we know that anyone who has been in or witnessed a consistently highly stressful, traumatic or life-threatening situation can develop PTSD.

Life for Melissa, our guest on this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, has been anything but kind. Exposed to all types of abuse since the age of five, Melissa finds living with PTSD a living hell but she’s taking positive steps and getting treatment for PTSD.

An Inside Look at Living with PTSD

melissa-ptsdMy name is Melissa. So you want to know what it’s like living with PTSD?

I am 29 years old. I work as a nanny for my nephew at the moment. I am on disability, and have been since 2005. It’s hard for me to have a “real” job due to my depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. When I was working a real job at a hair salon, I couldn’t handle it. My anxiety got so bad that I couldn’t even breathe. Being around big crowds scares me and I feel that people are always staring at me for some reason. I have really bad social anxiety.

I first noticed the symptoms of my depression when I was about 15 years old. At age of 16, I developed anorexia nervosa. I thought it would help me cope with my life struggles.

I had an abusive father all my life. I can remember things from when I was 5, all the way till when I was 16; that is when my parents divorced. My father would hurt me in so many ways and I didn’t know how to deal or cope with what was going on. So at 16, I slowly stopped eating. Eventually, my eating disorder was out of control and taking over my life.

My mom didn’t want to see what was really happening. Finally, when she did, I started to see a therapist and a doctor who prescribed my medications. At 16, I was diagnosed with anorexia/bulimia, PTSD, anxiety disorder, and borderline-personality disorder. My symptoms started when I was about 15, maybe even sooner. The PTSD symptoms got really bad – flashbacks, nightmares and night terrors almost EVERY night!!! (take online PTSD test) I couldn’t sleep at all. Insomnia was and still is a major thing I deal with. I have to take prescription sleeping pills every night just to get myself to sleep.

My flashbacks started getting really bad and out of control, where i felt like EVERYTHING was happening ALL over again. I had a boyfriend when I was 18, and he died on April 26th of 2000 in a car accident. That had a major toll on my health and my emotional state. I felt that it was all my fault. I blamed myself everyday and I couldn’t sleep because I would have nightmares. And when I would try and sleep, I would flashback to my father being abusive. After he died, I no longer dated guys, I began to date only girls and still do.

Goodness, I can go on and on about so much that has happened in my life.  Thirteen years later and I am still in therapy. I’ve been through inpatient and outpatient therapy.

Recently, in therapy, I have started to dissociate VERY badly and also when I am alone (read Holly Gray’s Dissociative Living blog). Sometimes it’s impossible to get me grounded back to a normal state because I’ve gotten so upset about a situation and then I start to panic really bad. I feel like I am crazy a lot of the time and that NO ONE understands me or what I am going through.

I have made YouTube videos about PTSD, eating disorders, abuse, anxiety, depression, self-injury for years now. I also suffer from self-injury. Making those videos is a POSITIVE outlet for me to cope with my issues and also to help others with the same illnesses and psychiatric disorders. I have very low self-esteem and I hate myself most of the time. I NEVER feel good enough, so I keep to myself and I am VERY shy!!!! It’s hard for me to make friends because I don’t go out much at all. I just hope to one day be able to eat “normal”, to not be scared ALL the time about stuff. I just want to be happy and be able to live the best life that I can.

Share Your Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with PTSD? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights on the issue. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

Watch our PTSD video interview with Melissa on What It’s Like Living with PTSD.

And here’s the table of contents for all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

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Eating Disorders Recovery: Information for Parents

Eating Disorders Recovery: Information for Parents

Eating With Your Anorexic” author and HealthyPlace blogger, Laura Collins, has a bold message for parents of children and teens with eating disorders – “It’s not your fault!”

A lot of the information on the causes of eating disorders points the finger at parents.  Parents, says Collins, are blamed by many researchers and treatment professionals as playing some role in the causes of anorexia or bulimia in their children. She wants more evidence-based research into the causes of eating disorders as well as eating disorders treatment recommendations.

Eating Disorders: Empowering Parents

During the early stages of her daughter’s battle with anorexia, Collins felt lost, isolated and lonely because of her experiences with eating disorder treatment professionals.  Since that time, she’s learned a lot and now
spends her time as a parent activist educating parents about eating disorders and eating disorders recovery.

This Wednesday, March 24, on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, we’ll be talking with Laura about her personal experiences as well as the pitfalls that many parents fall into and what to do about them and, of course, she’ll be taking your personal questions. Live at 3 p.m. CST, 4 EST. After that, watch the video on eating disorders recovery on-demand.

From Laura Collins

laura-collinsI am a 49-year old writer from Virginia. My husband and I have two children, 12 and 21. I became an eating disorder activist after the 2004 publication of my memoir, “Eating With Your Anorexic,” which told the story of our family’s experience with our daughter’s anorexia. Our family was fortunate. We had the means and the background to seek good care. We were able to do our own research into the causes and treatments of eating disorders and seek out clinical care that used science-based practices. Not all families are so lucky.

Our daughter has long recovered, but my frustration with an archaic treatment system and public misunderstanding of this illness led me in 2008 to start an international parent’s organization: F.E.A.S.T. (Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders). We are the only international parent organization in the eating disorders world, and we are focused on two things: empowering parents with good information, and pressing for evidence-based practices in the eating disorder field.

I love my work. Each day, I have the opportunity to talk with and help parents around the world in their search for good care and support. I hear updates every day on families who are succeeding at helping a loved one through to recovery. I also get the opportunity to work on policy and education within the eating disorder field, and give speeches and workshops to educators and health professionals.

Blogging is one of my favorite ways to reach the public. As a writer, I find it a wonderful way to respond to current events and to have a real-time conversation with readers. I’m very much looking forward to blogging at HealthyPlace, and joining this community! (Blog- Eating Disorders Recovery: The Power of Parents)

Share Your Thoughts or Experiences About Parenting a Child with an Eating Disorder

We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience of being a parent of a child or teenager with anorexia or bulimia.  Do you feel responsible for your child’s eating disorder? How do eating disorder treatment professionals treat you? (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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When Attempts at Eating Disorders Recovery Have Failed

When Attempts at Eating Disorders Recovery Have Failed

The upcoming HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show is for adult women. Our topic is: What to Do When Earlier Attempts at Eating Disorders Recovery Have Failed.

Some 10 to 15 percent of women suffer from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or maladaptive eating attitudes according to a new study from the Université de Montréal and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

According to news reports, some women develop eating disorders in their twenties, thirties, and forties because they, too, face increasing pressure to be thin, just like their teenage counterparts.  The pressures of pregnancy, divorce, job loss, and other common issues faced by adult women also take their toll.

But many adult women with eating disorders were teenagers with anorexia and bulimia which carried into adulthood.  Some made attempts at eating disorders recovery in their younger years and for a myriad of reasons, the recovery attempt either didn’t work out or didn’t last.

Now, in adulthood, these same women wonder whether they can be successful at eating disorders treatment.

Treatment of Eating Disorders at Any Age

Joanna Poppink, MFT, has been treating adult women with eating disorders for over three decades. Her site, Triumphant Journey: A Cyberguide To Stop Overeating and Recover from Eating Disorders resides in the HealthyPlace Eating Disorders Community.

In her interview on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show this week, Ms. Poppink defines what true recovery from an eating disorder really means and emphasizes that recovery can take place at any age.

Based in Los Angeles, California, Ms. Poppink says “over the years I’ve seen many people emerge from despair into a more full and fulfilling life.” At this point, if you’ve lived with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, you may be thinking: “That’s impossible!”

Ms. Poppink swears it’s not, but during the show, she does discuss what it really takes to recover from an eating disordered life.  Are you ready?  Watch the HeathyPlace Mental Health TV Show on-demand.

Share Your Thoughts or Experiences About Eating Disorders Treatment and Recovery

We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience with eating disorders treatment or trying to recover from an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating.  Or maybe you feel it can’t be done.  Call and tell us why. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

Ms. Poppink’s personal site on eating disorders recovery is here.

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Recovering From Compulsive Overeating – Dec. 1

Recovering From Compulsive Overeating – Dec. 1

Stopping compulsive overeating isn’t as simple as just saying you’ll quit. As HealthyPlace.com Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft explains in this week’s blog post, there’s a significant emotional component to compulsive overeating.
Most overeaters use food as a way to hide from emotions, fill a void inside, and cope with daily stresses. Many people dealing with compulsive overeating feel guilty for not being “good enough,” shame for being overweight, and have very low self-esteem. They turn to food to cope with their painful feelings, which only leaves them feeling worse. Sufferers often have a constant need for love and validation, and without it, may go into obsessive episodes of overeating as a way to forget the pain.

Coping with Compulsive Overeating

As a group, compulsive overeaters tend to be overweight, have a history of weight fluctuations, and are usually aware that their eating habits are abnormal. Our guest on this week’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV show is no exception.

Josie Lenore first began to use food for emotional soothing when she was around 9 or 10 years old and that’s when she first noticed her weight start to creep up. By the time she was 17 and at college, Josie received a full-immersion crash course in disordered eating from the “bikini clad laxative popping” girls in her dorm. Her weight would go up and down by 30 or so pounds for the next several years. She tells HealthyPlace.com that she was determined to be thin and she tried everything, “literally everything.” But each attempt missed the mark and added insult to injury.

Josie eventually recovered from overeating with the help of some well-known books on compulsive overeating and some information she found tucked away in a research study she came across.  She’ll be sharing her story Tuesday night. (Josie if offering HealthyPlace TV viewers a chance to download her free audio)

About the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show

The HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show airs live every Tuesday night at 5:30 pm PST, 7:30 pm CST, and 8:30 pm EST. Our guest will be taking your personal questions.

If you miss the live show which can be viewed on our site, you can always click the “on-demand” button on the player and watch the show at your convenience.

Share Your Experiences with Compulsive Overeating

We also invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience with compulsive overeating. What has it been like for you, why did you start and how are you coping? What has and hasn’t worked for you? (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

More Info on Compulsive Overeating and How to Stop Overeating:

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