We are pleased to introduce our September recovery talk host, Emma. Emma is very open about her recovery journey and wants to do anything she can to help anyone that was in a similar situation.
Emma was a professional sprinter who had previously trained for the world championships in Egypt. Although Emma was determined and committed to being the best athlete that she could, there were many pressures and expectations with this, including keeping your weight down in order to be a ‘good sprinter.’ Due to this, Emma was consistently encouraged to lose weight so that she was able to perform to the best of her ability when the championships had arrived.
In the leading up to the championships, Emma had lost a significant amount of weight and as a result had ran really poorly during her race. This was when she had noticed that something was not quite right. Symptoms that Emma had experienced at the time were extreme restricting of food/starvation, purging of foods, excessive exercise and would often avoid social situations. Emma had also developed unhelpful thinking styles through her anxiety and depression.
Once returning back from Egypt, Emma had gone to her GP who had referred her to a psychologist and was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and had developed bulimia not long after. Alongside this, she had also seen a dietitian simultaneously for a few months alongside her psychologist.
After a year of outpatient psychology work and Emma trying her best, both Emma and her psychologist agreed that she had not shown any progress and was not getting better. This was when the decision to see a psychiatrist was made and an appointment had been booked a week before Christmas. Unfortunately, after the initial appointment, Emma was informed by her psychiatrist that she would need to be admitted to hospital, otherwise she was going to get extremely ill and potentially result in death if not treated and monitored immediately.
Emma was an inpatient for two months where she had learnt a lot, however, it was still a very difficult process and journey which Emma describes as scary. After her discharge, Emma had started a day program and found her own psychologist in Sydney who she had started seeing weekly.
Significant moments throughout Emma’s journey where she felt like she was on the right track to recovery was when she was able to distinguish herself from her eating disorder as she had just wanted a life outside of it. Her values and morals kept her motivated throughout her journey and setting goals for herself made a significant difference in her motivation to recover.
Although Emma was motivated, there were quite a few setbacks throughout her journey and a number of triggers as many people around her did not fully understand eating disorders. The pressures to look a certain way also impacted Emma however, she was continuously fighting day in day out. It was when Emma had begun to notice that she was able to eat intuitively and did not have to follow up with a meal plan as well as being able to be social with her friends, that she began to realise she had recovered from her eating disorder. She is now able to do things for happiness and does what is in line with her values.
Emma remembers seeing Recovery Talks when she was in hospital and she could not imagine ever being at that point or getting to that place. She couldn’t believe she could ever live a “normal life” and in the midst, she could not imagine a life outside of her eating disorder. Emma states that ‘when you work hard and put things in place, you don’t realize how far you have come until you look back.’
Her advice for anyone who may be starting or already on their recovery journey is that recovering from an eating disorder is not easy, you have to consciously choose recovery and keep fighting. Having a supportive circle around you makes all the difference and that you have to be honest with yourself and why you are recovering.