We are pleased to introduce our November recovery talk champion, Korey. Korey is a non-diet Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in Melbourne that focuses on nutrition for every body and is a health at every size advocate.

Korey’s eating disorder journey started in her late teens around 15-16 years of age when she decided to act upon her poor body image by attempting to change her body. Korey grew up in a larger body compared to others in her year group, mostly by being much taller than other girls, and often felt self conscious. This had grown into strong body dissatisfaction that had built up over time and eventually led to her making active changes to her eating habits. Korey started eating ‘healthier’, looking into different diets available on the internet and she began to lose weight. At the time, Korey felt amazing about the results as she felt as if she had control over something for the first time.

Many years of body dissatisfaction and being in the last few years of high school with the high stress environment of exams and pressure to do well had a significant impact on Korey during this time, which had contributed to her eating disorder. Another big influence included dance from the age of 3 which focused on a lot of body checking, constantly comparing her body to others, growing up in front of a mirror and noticing from a young age that her body was different. Korey was later diagnosed with anorexia where she experienced significant restriction of food and cut out whole food groups. This led to a gradual weight loss which was not noticeably unhealthy initially, where she was often complimented on her weight loss. However, Korey eventually became underweight and her health had deteriorated.

Korey also experiences Generalised Anxiety Disorder including anxious attachment issues, being worried about her safety and she was always told that she was overreacting. Her anxiety made her feel like her world was all over the place and this was a driver for her eating disorder. Korey was admitted to hospital for medical instability where she was later transferred to the psychiatric ward inpatient at an eating disorder unit for 5 months. This was the lowest point of Korey’s recovery which Korey describes as the darkest point of her life. Korey lacked motivation to want to recover and began experiencing suicidal thoughts. During her time inpatient, Korey was not compliant and had recovery forced upon her. This was extremely difficult as Korey felt as if recovery was becoming impossible. After her time as an inpatient, Korey was later moved to a day program where her treatment team consisted of a dietitian, psychiatrist and regular GP visits.

It was when Korey made the connection that if she wanted to live her life and follow her plan to become a dietitian to help other people like, she needed to be the best version of herself. She realized her eating disorder was holding her back from everything. There were lots of people in her life that were supportive, but it was a decision that she came to herself and she pushed herself to the finish line. Some days Korey might still get thoughts but she doesn’t give it attention or act on it anymore. She got to a point where an eating disorder thought would pop up and she would laugh and realise it had no power over her anymore. She felt like Korey was at the forefront again, whereas before her eating disorder was always in the driver’s seat.

Korey’s advice for anyone struggling with an eating disorder is that the start and being in hospital can be incredibly hard and feel like the treatment team is against you. Finding an outpatient support team that understands you, listens to you and allows you to have some say in your treatment is empowering. It makes a huge difference and makes you want to be more involved in your recovery.  Recovery is super hard but it gets easier with time.