We are pleased to introduce our April recovery talk champion, Ash. Ash is currently an art director that works in advertising and an ambassador for InsideOut supporting and inspiring others towards recovery themselves. Ash began to realise something was not right in November 2011 where she had initially begun a health kick where it had gotten to the point of starting to fear certain foods. Although Ash experienced eating disorder symptoms, she was not diagnosed until it all came to a head in 2013 where she became very unwell.
Ash was dealing with untreated depression which was triggered by a number of factors including her parents divorce, leaving high school, entering university for the first time, moving out of childhood home and the end of first relationship. These were big changes in Ash’s life where she felt she wanted to gain some form of control back which she had done by controlling what she ate.
Symptoms of Anorexia that Ash has experienced at the time included excessive exercise and restriction. Over time she then developed purging through self-induced vomiting and over exercising, and presented with Anorexia with purging subtype. She also experienced sensitivity to the cold, moodiness, heart issues, obsession with food to an unhealthy level and body dysmorphia.
Ash’s treatment began at the end of 2013 where she was inpatient for 13 weeks, discharged for 2 months and back inpatient for 6 weeks. She was out for 3-4 months before her health had deteriorated a lot and she experienced severe cardiac issues. She was then inpatient for the last time and stayed for 15 weeks. She also continued with an outpatient day program where she underwent therapy, and saw a dietitian and psychiatrist.
The lowest point during Ash’s recovery journey where she encountered stepbacks was the feeling of taking 1 step forward and another 20 steps back. She felt recovery was a lot of trial and error and the eating disorder was always trying to outsmart her. Her lowest point was when she was faced with mortality, she realised just how bad it could get and she was miserable.
Although there were setbacks, Ash realised it was impacting not just herself but her family’s life. A specific turning point turning her recovery where she had felt she began on the right track to recovery was when she had experienced a fainting spell at a family event and then focus was on her rather than the family, which she hated. She decided she wanted to recover because she didn’t want to be a burden anymore (even though her family told her she wasn’t). Her quality of life became so low and she was sick of it.
Ash realised she had recovered from her eating disorder when she noticed a series of little victories. One big physical point was when she got her period back, she felt like her body was finally healing and starting to get back to normal. This was a sign that she was doing something right. Through mindfulness, she realised she wasn’t consumed by thoughts about food 24/7 anymore. She could find happiness in the small things and could fill her life with more things not related to her eating disorder.
Her advice to anyone who may be starting or already on their recovery journey is to not quit and do not give up. Recovery is probably the hardest thing you will ever do and once you go through it you will realise you are a changed person on the other side. Recovery is possible for anyone, and you can get through it. It requires constant persistence but it will save your life .
As soon as Ash gave up her eating disorder, she got everything her eating disorder promised her. When she was feeling down, she wanted friends to care about her, she wanted to be happy, she wanted a job. She thought when she reached a certain weight she would get those things but that didn’t happen. When she gave up her eating disorder it made room for everything else and she achieved all those things.
Feel inspired by Ash’s story and join her recovery talk here.