A Whole Person Approach to Healing Fibromyalgia

By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy

Of one thing I am certain…

 The body

 is not the measure of healing

 peace is the measure.

–George Melton

The specialist pokes and prods then inquires, “Does this hurt? How about here — and here?”

My response,  “Ouch! It hurts all over.”

He sits down then says, “That fits with the syndrome all right. Get dressed and I’ll be right back.”

These points are how professionals make the initial fibromyalgia diagnosis.

These points are how professionals make the initial fibromyalgia diagnosis.

After the examination, the rheumatologist told me I had a chronic muscle disorder, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), which is as common as rheumatoid arthritis and can be even more painful.

The term fibromyalgia comes from fibro, for fibrous tissues such as tendons and ligaments: my, indicating muscle: and algia, meaning pain. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, varying degrees of anxiety, depression, irritable bowel, vision problems, tension and migraine headaches. Fibromyalgia may also involve difficulty concentrating, light and environmental sensitivities, irritability, mood swings and insomnia. It is to the “hurt-all-over” syndrome because of the widespread body pain and stiffness.

The doctor went on to explain that there is no cure but she offered me a course of treatment including muscle relaxants, low-dose antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain pills, sleeping pills and physiotherapy. I said I needed time to consider my options. I left with a firm commitment to finding a more natural way than taking all these drugs.

Taking Charge of my Recovery

In my work as a life coach, I encouraged others to look for causes rather than just make symptoms with drugs. Looking at my health challenge from this perspective made it difficult for me to believe that fibromyalgia is manageable but not curable. Members of the group seemed to define themselves by their fibromyalgia. As watch and listen participants seem resigned to a life of chronic pain and debilitating fatigue that worsens with age. Whenever a health problem comes into my life, I take a proactive approach. After leaving, one of the meetings I chose not to return and decided to use tried and tried self-health methods and whole person healing. I severed my association with them and carried on with an even stronger resolve.

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After the appointment, I reject that idea, go home and start researching what some call “fibro” for short. Initially, I joined a fibromyalgia support group and gathered some useful information, but left after a short time. Most of the participants were more interested in managing rather than curing their disorder and that did not work for me. I live with the idea that more often than not the “incurable” aspect is the umbrella doctors’ use when they do not have other options.

Individuals with fibromyalgia frequently have a type-A personality. They are perfectionists, neat, compulsive, organized, time-oriented, tense and precise. I frequently overdid things and found myself feeling discouraged when flare-ups occurred. I world experience painfully tight muscles, lack of mobility, chronic insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, mood swings and extreme fatigue. However, I knew that one’s attitude toward pain makes a difference. So rather than mask symptoms or lapse into feeling sorry for myself, I decided to allow this condition to become my teacher.

Lessons in Balanced Living

David and I work together gathering information about the disorder and making proactive health plans for a full recovery. The fact that the physicians refer to it as a “syndrome” gave us hope. I go back to my yoga practice and the stretches and deep breathing is theraputic. Prayer, meditation and journaling provides insight and spiritual clarity. As an incest survivor, I knew childhood problems were likely contributing to my disorder.

David provides useful feedback about the cause and effect of my behavior and how overdoing it creates a flare up. Through time, we both concluded that fibromyalgia is as much a pacing disorder as a physical one. This realization was a major breakthrough. Through his eyes I could see my lifelong pattern of overdoing and overreaching.

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Over the years my growth process assisted us in creating a self-health model called the Inner Dynamics System. It is based on the principle that the outer aspects of life mirror the inner landscape. Awareness, accountability and action are key aspects of empowered living and it was time tomake self-accountable choices for my health and well-being.

My next spoke in my healing wheel came with the energetic healing art of Reiki. It is powerful, non-invasive healing art that facilitates the energy flow to body tissues and promotes body/mind/spiritual/emotional baance.  The sessions created a dramatic difference that I  become a practitioner and used the techniques daily.

Reiki is a natural healing art that assists the body in releasing blocks and opening channels for the body to heal.

Reiki is a natural healing art that assists the body in releasing blocks and opening channels for the body to heal.

To support my body between the self-treatments  I use magnetic therapy. Magnets open capillaries and increases blood supply to weak and inflamed areas. Long hot Epsom Salt soaks were soothing to sore muscles and ligaments.

How Magnets Work

Regulating Sleep

As a sexual abuse survivor I had alifelong pattern of insomnia. The inability to sleep soundly  exacerbated  pain and stiffness. A naturopath suggested a combination of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy,  herbal relaxant, lavender essential oil on my feet and sleep-enhancing tea.  I began reciting the prayer of serentity to asist me in releasing the buzzing brain syndrome. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Training my over-active brain to still points was challening.  quiet has been quite a challenge.  During the early stages of the diagnosis, I was learning some invaluable lessons in the importance of balace and pacing.

Developing the ability to relax into deep restful sleep reduced th symptoms dramatically and energy levels increased. Through time I was strong enough to cross-train and it includes  light free-weights for strengthening ands and freeform dance.

Using a variety of methods for healthy living and whole person healing.

Using a variety of methods for healthy living and whole person healing.

Supplements and Diet

When I discovered that antioxidants help fibromyalgia, I increased the amount of vitamin E and C and included grape seed extract as well. A combination of ginkgo balboa and hawthorn helped clear the fibro-fog and improved my concentration. The herbs eyebright and bilberry improved my vision. MSN, glucosamine (GLH) and chondroitin have all but eliminated pain and inflammation, and improved the strength and flexibility of my muscles and ligaments.

The Naturopath changed my diet and I had to eliminate  nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers). They contain levels of glutamates can create inflammation for those who have a sensitivity,  Some foods increase the number of parasites and yeast in the system and he put me on an eating plan without white bread and sugar.

I discovered the cleansing properties of liquid chlorophyll, acidophilus and sage tea with clove and added them to my regime.My diet was clean and I did not injest  hydrolyzed protein, mono sodium glutamate (MSG) or aspartame.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia after a car accident in 1991. Within a year I was living pain-free and the balanced living methods have supported my body ever since. Return visits to the doctor and physiotherapists indicate that the trigger points are not inflamed and I live symptom free. As long as I respect my body, pace, stay warm I remain healthy and strong. The diagnosis and required lifestyle changes were daunting at times.

However, the exprience gave more than it took because I learned how to live within my means in every level. Had it not happened I would probably be living my Type A-hard driving life without the the respect for my body that I know have.  I continue to believe that in the end health is a persona responsibility and not a right. In many cases healing has little to do with medicine and as the Naturpath wisely pointed out medical model cannot heal us. We need to create the environment for the body to heal and with that approach it often does.

I learned this and so much more. I share the lessons, training in my book  entitled it I Have Been There…A Testimony of Hope (www.ibtbook.com)nd.  David and I share a commitment to assisting others in their quest for radiant health and empowered living.  Check out the website for our personal development company Fresh Beginnings website at www.fresh-beginnings.com

With my personal experiences with fibromyalgia I refused to accept that it is incurable. This previously published article shares my road to full recovery.

With my personal experiences with fibromyalgia I refused to accept that it is incurable. This previously published article shares my road to full recovery.

This article was originally published in my column Perspectives on Healthy Living in the spring 2008 (Volume 15—Issue 1) of The Aquarian, (www.aquarianonline.com). I received permission from  The Aquarian Magazine to share my published articles.

Natural Flu and Cold Remedies

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–By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy

Previously published in the Aquarian newspaper and all rights are reserved.

During cold and flu season people are considering natural alternatives to heal and balance their systems. In my own healing journey and from working with clients in my life-coaching practice, we sugges a variety of self-health methods. My mentor, Dr. George Kroeker always stressed the importance of body balance.  Whenever illnessess occur, it is preferable  to use whole person healing applications  over external  symptom relief. system so it can heal itself.

Widespread outbreaks of influenza usually occur from October to March. Colds and flu germs are spread  by contact and exposure from  by  an infected person. Viruses can be a concern but the majority of people who come down with them recover within a week or two. The doctor I see says that although many believe in the efficacy of vaccines, they do not guarantee protection against the flu and sometimes cause more harm than good. This may be especially true this fall as rushed production allows less time for safety testing.

Whenever clients  at Fresh Beginnings call us and ask  for natural cold and flu options  we  caution them about self-medicating with over the counter medications. Many of the pills and hot lemon drinks contain the same active ingredients and can overload the system. It is advisable to consult a health practitioner before self-prescribing over-the-counter remedies. Given that there are no known cures for colds and viruses,  the first recommendation is to minimize exposure and strengthen your immunity as the best way to stay healthy. Here are some of my “perspectives” on healthy living and flu prevention:

The Basics

• Sleep as much as needed. The immune system functions much better with seven to nine hours sleep for optimal health. When the body is fatigued, it is less able to ward off viruses and infections.

• Exercise moderately on a regular basis.

• Avoid sugar. Even small amounts of sugar can impair immune function, leaving you more susceptible to the flu.

• During cold weather, indoor heating systems dry out the mucous membranes in the nose and throat. It is important to keep them well hydrated by drinking more water. Using indoor water fountains or other methods to improve humidity, especially in the bedrooms, makes sense.

• Germs and viruses enter through the eyes, nose, mouth and, possibly, ears. Therefore, it is  important to avoid exposure and wash hands  frequently. It’s also advisable to carry a hand sanitizer and use it after shaking hands or touching handles, payphones and doorknobs. A naturopath told me that coating the inside of the nostrils with sesame oil could help to prevent germs from entering the body.

• If you are sick, stay home to recover and to prevent spread to others. Muffle coughs and sneezes with the crook of the elbow rather than using bare hands or tissues. When tissues are used, dispose of them immediately and thoroughly sanitize the hands.

Giving the body time to heal is important and avoding contact with others prevents spreading whatever you have to others.

Giving the body time to heal is important and avoding contact with others prevents spreading whatever you have to others.

• Relax and maintain a positive attitude. Too much stress has a negative impact on health and mental well-being. Meditation and creative visualization  reduce stress and calm.

• Reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol depletes B vitamins, impairs liver function and creates greater susceptibility to infections. You might want to add a B-vitamin supplement to your regime.

• Avoid smoking, including second-hand smoke. Cigarette smoke dries out the nasal passages and paralyzes the small hairs in the nose and lungs that help ward off viruses.

•Whenever possible take advantage of infrared or steam saunas. The air in saunas is too hot for viruses to survive; thus steam and infrared saunas cleanse the system and provide immune boosting effects. However, people with heart conditions should consult their health care practitioner before using any form of intense heat therapy.

•Essential oils and aromatherapy support body systems. Clove has antiseptic properties applying it  to the feet  provides a measure of protection.  Lavender is calming and uplifting. For more information on the efficacy of aromatherapy key word them and do an internet search.

Young Living is just one of many essential oil companies offering aromatherapy oils. Check the internet for other reputable sources and do your own research.

Young Living is just one of many essential oil companies offering aromatherapy oils. Check the internet for other reputable sources and do your own research.

During consultations with clients at Fresh Beginnings, we also suggest a variety of flu-fighting, immune-boosting, and nutrient rich foods such as:

• Dark green, red and yellow vegetables and fruits. These are packed with healthful nutrients.

• Fresh, raw or lightly cooked garlic has strong, natural antiviral properties.

• Green tea over black teas.

• Cayenne pepper is filled with vitamin A and acts as a catalyst for herbs and vitamins.

• If the doctor prescribes antibiotics, it is advisable to supplement the diet with  yogurt or acidophilus capsules. It will replenish friendly bacteria in the bowel.  in the course of treatment.  It is particularly important when antibiotics are given for secondary bacterial infections.

• Echinacea is a popular cold and flu remedy especially if taken early, before symptoms worsen.

• Vitamin C and zinc lozenges beneficial, especially zinc gluconate and zinc acetate.

Colds are Another Matter

Although the common cold is usually milder than the flu, it is still worth looking after. If you ignore symptoms and try to keep going as usual, it can turn into a worse illness. If you have underlying medical problems, it’s especially important to pay attention. Here are more ideas for self-care:

• At the first sign of a sore throat, gargle with ½ teaspoon salt in warm water.

• Saline nasal drops as well as steam inhalations with sage, chamomile leaves, menthol and eucalyptus can help clear sinuses.

• Whenever early symptoms of a cold or flu appear, put two tablespoons each of dried sage leaves and whole cloves in a large pot and make a tea. Sipping it can soothe the throat and help fight infections.

• Vapor rubs, hot water bottles and soaks in a warm tub with one to two cups of Epsom salts can provide steam to stuffed nasal passages and relief for sore aching muscles.

• Lozenges with menthol, eucalyptus, honey and lemon may soothe an irritated throat.

• Tissues with moisturizers can help prevent sore skin around the nose. Lip balm soothes chapped lips.

• Traditional Chinese Medicine (herbal remedies and acupuncture) can effectively bring the body back into balance.

• The following is a favorite  cold remedy of ours. It  provides immune boosting and cleansing properties.  If it is too strong,  dilute it or reduce ingredient portions in the next round.

4 C. water

2 T. fresh or ground ginger

½ t. cayenne

1 whole head of garlic

2 quartered lemons (wash first, rind on)

Maple syrup or honey to taste

Simmer 20 minutes. Add ½ cup of mixture to ½ cup warm water or to taste.

Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy is a freelance photojournalist, life coach, group leader and public speaker and can be contacted through the Fresh Beginnings website, www.fresh-beginnings.com or at the website for her book at www.ibtbook.com

 

Sourcing out natural cold and flu remedies supports the body rather than masking symptoms.

Sourcing out natural cold and flu remedies supports the body rather than masking symptoms.

Anatomy of an Eating Disorder

2Being there...to here.

Being there…to here.

–By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
I sit and listen attentively to each woman within the sharing circle speaks as they openly discuss their individual struggles with their eating disorders. Some are working through their own process and others are there looking to find answers for a loved one facing similar challenges. As I quietly observe I glance around the room see how some mask their pain with a vacant stare while others speak in words that are strangled with emotion. As I silently participate in their individual and collective journeys my heart goes out to them. I am fully able to empathize with their struggle … because I was once going through a similar process and am fully aware of how difficult it is to believe that there is a way to move beyond their compulsive coping patterns.

Their journey was once my journey and I had decided to come and offer a testimony of hope. When it came time for me to speak I began offering aspects of what I had learned along my own path. At first they there was openness as started sharing why I was there. “I am here tonight to honor and support where you are—because I once walked this path and fully understand what a difficult path you are on. It thirty years of struggle and strife to finally find another way to live my life—but I did—and I am a living testimony that it is possible to heal your body and your life. I have been free from the clutches of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-eating and body-image issues for over sixteen years. I am not a recovering anything—I am healed, whole, well and in better health now than I ever was in my youth. I am here to offer encouragement and hope that you can do it too.”

I pause for a moment and suddenly sense that the energy in the room has changed. As I glance around there is a tangible, yet inaudible ‘clunk.’ My many years as a group facilitator and life couch have put me in touch with this dynamic before. It is t very clear that minds within the room have suddenly closed. Something in what I related created a low comfort level and experience has taught me to respect individual boundaries than to forge ahead. I left shortly afterwards. The next day I called the facilitator of the support group and discussed my observations. Her feedback was not all that surprising and aligned to my perception. “Yes Coralie, even though the group appreciated where you are—there is a lot of denial, anger and feelings of victimization within this group. At this point all they really want to do is to be able to express how they feel each week without really getting into problem solving right now. Maybe what you have to offer will be more accepted at some later date—but thank you for coming. Good-bye.”
After hanging up, I take a deep breath and allow my mind to travel along time time-lines of my life to the point things began to unravel for me. Around the age of seventeen I decided to take a modeling course and see if I could make it in the fashion industry. The women who headed up the agency never bothered to tell me that my five foot two and a half inch height would never allow me to go very far. She willingly took the money for the course and I blindly followed her lead. As I struggled to compensate for the obvious height issue it made sense that if I lost enough weight maybe being skinny could somehow compensate for what was lacking vertically. Couple that dynamic with a home life with a controlling, abusive, alcoholic father and a passive enabling mother I began to develop a sense of self that was outwardly directed. That shift in focus was the beginning of my downfall.

Within my musings, I flashback to how I resorted to self-starvation, laxative abusive and purging as a desperate way to diminish my size and weight to a place it was never meant to be. The process began long before the medical model had the self-destructive patterns. The cycle eventually “worked” and I starved myself down to under 80 pounds. Originally, it started with restrictive calorie counting, frenetic bouts of intense exercising that were difficult to sustain.
Each time I ‘failed’ a binge followed and then the whole cycle began again. Weight gains lowered self-esteem and created an internal need to binge. Food was used to compensate for growing feelings of inadequacy or block out thoughts and emotions that were too uncomfortable to handle. Little did I realize at that level of awareness that my fixation on food, weight and body image were compulsive coping mechanism. The fixated thinking had become a way of denying what I believed to be insurmountable issues in my personal and family life. That awareness would only come many years later.

Then somewhere in my early twenties my father in his usual unthinking fashion said something that re-routed my life again. In one of my venting outbursts I declared that I had to find a way to lose more weight so I could ‘measure up’ to the fashion and entertainment industry’s stereotypes for the ‘perfect body. In what became a milestone moment my father said in a calm voice, “Well, why don’t you do what many jockeys, ballerinas and others with a high profile do to keep their weight low?” His serious tone caught my attention interest and I felt he might just have a solution and I quickly said, “What do they do?” My father could see he had me—and he played the moment to his advantage by taking a s drink from his glass of Scotch and a slow puff on his cigarette before answering. “It is any easy fix and you can eat whatever you want in any amount. Afterwards just stick your fingers down the throat and throw it up. Some also use laxatives—between those two things—you can be whatever weight you want and keep it. Simple huh?”

The impact of what he had just said was not lost to either my mother or me. I vividly recall the look of horror on her face. It was the exact moment that the light bulb went on for me. Needless to say there was nothing my mother could say or do to stop me. Little did I know then that my father’s statement would re-route my life and create a quagmire of confusion that would take years to emerge from. As I continue to wander down memory lane I am caught in a full circle moment of total recall and I vividly remember my first binge/purge experience. Ahh—alone at last. My stomach is bulging as I wander towards the bathroom. I cannot help thinking about the volume of food just consumed. It was the biggest binge of my life—but knowing that I was going to be able to ‘get rid of it’ created a bliss-like throughout the binge. Throughout the ‘stuffing’ I comforted myself with the reality that I was about to embark on my first episode in throwing up. No one could stop me now—I was on a whole new path of liberation—or so I thought then.

As I stand in front of the toilet the stark while porcelain bowl invites me to begin a ritual of association that will last far longer than I ever wanted it to. At this juncture I foolishly believe I would be able to control my association with it—too bad I didn’t know then what hard lessons I would have to learn as a result of what I did next. Before beginning I paused and wondered how to do it. For one brief moment I felt like an initiate to some order—and this was the act that would allow me to gain entry to some unseen power. Hmm—I wonder how many fingers I should use. I decide to hook my thumb and little finger together and try three. Ugh, that hurt, maybe I should try two. As I shove them down my throat initially nothing happens, I try again—further down this time—there I’m getting a gag response—keep it up—the energy within my intention to master this art of body and weight control drives me to keep going. As I push harder and deeper I gag more and I keep it up, pushing, probing fingers deeper until I finally feel my insides begin to respond. As the inner upheaval begins to move I am full of anticipation as I sense the massive amount of food I’d consumed is rising upwards. Excitement begins to build as I feel lift-off occurring.

The food rushes up in a volcanic eruption. Once I had the first experience in motion I kept it up I did it once, twice, three—four—until I lost count and could finally feel my stomach had released all its booty. As I flushed the toilet for a final time and closed the lid I looked at my formerly bulging abdomen and saw how flat it had become and I absolutely delighted. I stood in mute silence admiring my handiwork. Then within the aftermath I feel my knees slightly buckling and I sit on the toilet and try to process what had just happened.

In retrospect it was one of the last times I paid any real attention to my body’s responses. From that point on I become increasingly dissociated from anything it felt or needed. But initially symptoms were too obvious to ignore. I could not help but notice what a physically demanding ritual the self-induced vomiting actually was. I felt weak, my neck and back were stiff and sore from bending over. Residues of bitter tasting bile lingered in my mouth and my eyes felt as though they were stretched and bulging behind their sockets. Coupled with all of that was an incredible thirst and it was clear to me that I was severely dehydrated. But I held on to the fact that I had managed to do it and in the bizarre fashion of anyone with an eating disorder I felt kind of good about my achievement.

Even though I felt physically weak—something bigger and not clearly understood had occurred within the unusual and rite of passage I had just undertaken. I noticed a sense of relief—as if on some emotional level I had a moment of release from things I could not clearly define. That gave me a profound sense of empowerment and I liked it. Although it was not fully comprehended to me at that time I came to see that something within that first experience put a new set of beliefs in motion. In retrospect this first act created a false sense of security about controlling my destiny and achieving every weight loss dream of skinniness I had been harboring within.

I embellish the moment with romanticized ideas that this ritual would allow me to create the perfect body size and shape—and with that would come all the love, acceptance and appreciation I could not find anywhere else. As my mind ran along those line it eclipsed any sense of how bizarre the path I was embarking on really was. Logic and reason were replaced with an unrealistic sense that everything I ever wanted or desired was now within my reach. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted in whatever amounts I wanted and never have to look back. On top of that I could show the world that I could achieve something many others could not—a lean, strong, thin body—something everyone wanted and now I could finally have.
As I continued along this deluded path in an ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach.

. Being able to binge and throw up worked for awhile. But what is now called bulimia eventually began to upset my metabolism and eventually my body’s ability to digest and eliminate food broke down and I had to resort to ingesting increasing amounts of laxitives. I rationalized that it was alright…because they were herbal. The delusion and denial continues. Eating less, exercising more, throwing up, starving my body decreased core energy and threw my whole self out of balance. Over the years of abuse my body became soft, bloated. My term for it is ‘gooshy.” I had no idea then that it was my body’s response to dehydration faulty digestion. Rather than feeling fit and fabulous the flab dragged me down so I increased the intensity and length of exercise when I had the energy to do so.

At that point I was hospitalized and went through five years in and out of psychiatric wards. I was subjected to massive amounts of mood-altering drugs. When didn’t work I was given over 120 electro-shock treatments before the doctor realized they were an ineffective treatment for me. No one within the medical system ever considered addressing family life or what might be the root cause of my debilitating health and personal problems. Through that whole time no one ever addressed the problems I was having at home and with my parents. I consistently felt that I was the problem—and that added to a growing loss of self-worth and any sense of self. There were times where I thought it would be better to die and I often wished I could. The depressing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness were so bad at times I considered taking my own life so the pain could end.
By the time I reached the ten year mark of struggle I was 28.

None of what the medical model had to offer was doing anything to change my behavior—or my life. So I made the decision to get out of the system and find another way. As I look back over the anatomy of my eating disorder one of the most surreal aspects of it was through the whole thirty year process I was still functioning on many levels. The five-year stint in the psychiatric wards was the most challenging and least productive times of my life. Once I broke free theconstrictive ‘care’ I made a decision to do something—anything different.

At that age and stage of life, I married my childhood sweetheart, began to journal, explore my spiritual beliefs and search for ways to heal my life It was clear that if I did not find a way through the confusing maze of my disordered life and disordered eating I was going to die. My throat had started to bleed when I stuck my fingers down my throat. My intestines and stomach ached and I was increasingly sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I have come to accept that the challenges I was having in trying to find answers contributed to the break-up of my first marriage—but there was nothing I could do—except keep on keeping on until I found another way to cope.

My lifestyle was a horrendous series of uphill and downhill slides into a world I feared I might never be able to escape. It was a lonely, isolating world at times because I could never allow anyone to get too close, lest they discover my terrible truth. The irony of it all is that I still had an outer semblance of a life. I worked, socialized, dated and even began writing, producing a series of talk shows on community access television in Winnipeg. So to all appearance I had my act together. The shame of my secret ritualistic life of self-destruction continued as I lived a life of ‘quiet, unspoken desperation.’

It took another twenty years after that to finally have enough of a spiritual epiphany to fully comprehend that my obsession with thinness, fixated thinking about image-management and trying to define myself from the outside were not the real issues. Then in an amazing moment of clarity some of my prayers were answered. For the first time I could see there was something very wrong with my whole lifestyle and my sense of Self within it and once I ‘got it’ things began to change. When Karen Carpenter died I was amazed to learn that what I had been doing since my late teens had finally had a name and a diagnosis. Well imagine that. Too bad it hadn’t been addressed when I was being tortured by the medical model all those years ago.

Up to that point a part of me did not really believe that what I was doing could actually kill me. I had been doing it for so long never in the thirty year span had any doctor ever said that there could be some long term health problems with what I was doing. But the media hype around her death mentioned that her heart gave out and that was a big newsflash for me. As unfortunate as it was to hear about Karen’s death added another dimension to the clarity I was developing from within. The soul searching forces me to question whether I had an unspoken, formerly unacknowledged death wish and unconsciously finding ways to fulfill it. That hard core question about whether my death wishes were stronger than my life wishes changed the course of my life path. I knew deep within my being that I did not want to die and that I had better smarten up or the choice might not be mine to make. The course of my life path began to change in strange and mysterious ways. Once I made a decision to live I embarked on a quest to cease feeling victimized the intent took me down a new road.

Rather than making skinniness my goal I focus on regaining health, balance. I sought out a series of therapists and alternative health practitioners with a whole-person approach. Talk therapy with reputable counselors leads to more accountable choice making and I stop playing the blame game. Through time, I was able to accept that I had daunting challenges but no one can change the past and it was time to move forward. Most definitely. Had my family of origin contributed to my personal and health problems? Undeniably. But through time I had to accept that I could either live in the past with all the hurt, regret, blame and shame or I could choose to forgive all of it and move on. And that was what I did and I continue to do that today. The changes took time and required self-ownership, therapy. I learned how to change my diet and mindset and eventually I regained my health and balance.

As I focused on being healthy over skinny while building a positive sense of self I began to live life from the inside out. I learned how to manage my life, handle stress and focus on goal setting and goal-getting my world and everything in it changed for the better. As I learned how like and love myself and accept my shortcomings as part of being human I also was able to establish safe boundaries with others. As I progressed along my path towards wholeness and happiness I recovered repressed memories of sexual abuse and it became clear that I had been treating myself the way I had been treated. I had been abused and felt that was what I deserved and I found a way to abuse myself—and what was what the eating disorders represented for me. It is so obvious now—all change begins with awareness and once I was aware of why I did what I did I was able to change the pattern forever and never go back.

I made it through and life today is sweeter, richer, healthier and more abundant than it ever was in what many call the prime years of their life. I now thank God that when I had considered ending my life that it never happened. If I had died or taken my own life I would be missing all the good that I now enjoy. That is part of why I am so committed to sharing what I have learned. It has been said that anyone who has met the challenge and overcome it has a moral duty to chare it. And so that is what I do.

As my journey through the past brings me back into present time I realize why I felt a need to go sit in on that support group. They may not be ready to hear what I have to say but I know there are many out there who are. As I was able to transform my life and become healthy and while I took training and began developing and presenting workshops about a system of weight management that works from the inside out. The Body Dynamics System I developed with my life and business partner David Malloy has a proven track record that assists people change their lives by changing and re-framing their attitudes and behaviors around their weight and body-image. We assist clients in making health, balance and strength the priority of unhealthy weight management methods.

The process for self-change involves a readiness to change a and some guidance about how to do it. David and I co-direct a company that is appropriately named Fresh Beginnings. We promote the idea that is it is never too early or too late create a new beginning. The website link for Fresh Beginnings is: http://www.fresh-beginnings.com. After sharing my healing journey with clients I was encouraged to write a book about it. I’ve Been There…A Testimony of Hope is the name of my memoir and it chronicles how I transformed my scars into stars and life for the better. The website for the book is http://www.ibtbook.com .