My posts often describe my trauma and how I deal with it. This is because my eating disorder was rooted in trauma. There seemed to be no other way at the time but to eat to cope.

Trauma is a deeply distressing or painful experience. Our society teaches us to push our pain down to a place where we think it will not hinder our life. However, trauma cannot be pushed away so easily. We are left with a dull ache which we desperately try to muffle. I used food to quieten my pain, but there are other ways we choose to do this. These include excessive drinking of alcohol, taking illicit drugs and smoking. While these methods seem to work at the time, the pain remains, and a dependency develops as seek to muffle it.

The pain caused by deeply distressing experiences can’t always be eliminated. Sometimes it remains with us for our lifetime, and we must learn to work with it rather than allowing it to freeze us. This is not easy to do. When our trauma is triggered, we can experience the full force of the old feelings and physical reactions and we can overreact to seemingly minor issues. Our body goes into flight or fight mode as it tries to deal with the impending danger.

How do we deal with our reactions to trauma? Over the years I have learned to quickly recognise the signs that I am reacting to a trigger. My body tenses, heart races and I become hyper vigilant. Instead of being hard on myself for this reaction, I acknowledge it, and recognise that my body is trying to keep me safe. With no impending danger surrounding me, I can see that perhaps my reaction is not related to the present and I am in a safe place. Nowadays I can usually work out what has triggered me and remind myself that I am not in the same situation in which the trauma occurred. As I slowly bring myself back to the present moment, my body gets the idea and the physical and psychological reactions calm.

To do this I had to learn to be a spectator to my actions. Instead of fully entering the feelings rushing through my body, I watch is as if I am outside of myself.

If you would like to talk about methods to calm yourself when you are triggered. Message me for a chat.

In love, Jenny

In his book, “Great Expectations”, Charles Dickens tells the story of Miss Havisham, a wealthy spinster who was jilted at her wedding. She insisted that she wear her wedding dress for the rest of her life. I wonder how many of us identify with Miss Havisham. We hold on to a promise waiting for it to be fulfilled, in doing so we fail to live our life to its fullest.

Perhaps something painful has happened and you are waiting for it to be fixed. Perhaps you were made a promise and are now waiting for it to be fulfilled. But while you wait, you deny yourself a life, your life. Subconsciously you are holding yourself back as you wait for the outcome you hope for. This is what I have done.

From childhood my siblings and I were promised we would inherit a significant amount of money from my parents’ estate. We knew that if we pleased them, we would receive a greater share. I carried a fear of displeasing my parents into my adulthood. Unfortunately, I disappointed them when I left home, so I could only ever hope for an equal share. Later, I was given some money, but there was always the possibility that more was to come.

I believed this money would make my life happier and that it meant my parents loved me. My fear of displeasing dad prevented me from living my own life. I held back from what I wanted to do and chose a life that would gain his approval. I lived hoping for his approval, putting on hold all that I wanted to do so that I could make dad happy with me.

Eventually I realised that it was ridiculous to put my life on hold. Living life in the present rather than in the future was more important to me than waiting for money. And life has improved greatly for me. As it has turned out dad is now 96 and doing very well for his age. Every now and then, he mentions what remains of his money and how I should be living to get it.

I am so glad I stopped waiting! Are you waiting for something? What is holding you back from living your life? Message me if you would like to chat.

In love, Jenny

Do you do new year’s resolutions? I usually don’t. I never keep the promises I make to myself as they are not maintainable. New year’s resolutions are usually short-term promises to fix long-term problems. If it took over 10 years to develop the problem, it will take some time to change the behaviour.

These resolutions are usually focussed on surface behaviours which have deeper roots. Permanent change is rarely instantaneous. It takes time to adapt our lifestyle to improve health. Making promises to ourselves to change our life does not work on chronic behaviours. The things we most want to change are chronic – obesity, smoking, alcohol addiction, gambling, drug addiction. In my case, resolving to lose weight each year came to nothing. I had no strategy, nor did I have any understanding of the motivation behind my overeating. I just wanted to reduce the guilt and shame I felt about it.

What if we changed the way we thought about these behaviours? The best strategy is to understand the guilt and shame we feel about them. How we perceive ourselves and what we do is a mix of our own core beliefs and cultural expectations. These influence our toxic feelings which bind us to the problem. Feeling bad about ourselves is painful and we don’t want to face these emotions. Instead, we think that if we stopped smoking, overeating, drinking, gambling, or doing drugs we would feel better and perhaps others would accept us.  

Disentangling the thoughts and feelings about my obesity was the core strategy behind my weight loss. The cultural expectation and my belief that I should be like a ballet dancer, or a runway model distorted my perception of myself. The answer lay in accepting who I was and adjusting my expectations to reality.

Remember, you are more than what you do. Your behaviour is a symptom of your beliefs and how you see yourself in the context of the world in which you live.

Feel free to message me if you want to chat.

In love, Jenny

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the concept of giving and letting go. We tend to believe that accumulating “things” will bring us happiness. We obtain more and more “things” in the hope of finding that happiness. We think that getting these “things” will satisfy our undiscerned need. But, looking at the world in terms of what will fill our need does not bring happiness.

This was one of the roots of my eating disorder. I thought that if I could satisfy what I lacked inside, I would be happy. And to do this, I used food. Externalising my happiness in this way did not satisfy, it increased my misery as I yearned for more and more food to fill the unsatisfied need.  

Seeking what was outside of myself to find happiness created anxiety for me. Being jealous of others and trying to control them did not bring peace and happiness. What I discovered was that happiness came from how I chose to see my life rather than what I could get, from creating rather than taking. I learned to do what made me feel good. This is the essence of my giving to others. Because for me, this is what life is all about.

Happiness is an inside job. No one or any “thing” can make us happy - it is always our choice. A new car or a new relationship will both lose their shine over time but finding satisfaction and seeing the good in what we have will always bring joy. For me this is being in nature, at the beach, in my garden, spending time with my dog, being authentic with those I love, and being in any place which brings me peace. These simple pleasures make my life good.

I hope you enjoy the simple pleasures of life, too. Message me if you want to chat.

In love, Jenny

Tonight, is Christmas Eve and I have been thinking about others who live alone like myself, those who have no family. This time of year can be extremely lonely for us. As Christmas comes once a year, we do not face these intense feelings every day and we are unprepared to deal with them now.

In my early years I found it excruciating. As Christmas is a time when we repeat family traditions, the memories were fresh. It is the juxtaposition which creates the greatest grief – we remember Christmases shared with family, but we are alone. The comparison with how it once was makes the pain intense. We are reminded by advertising and the excitement that is Christmas that we are without family. Feelings of loss and abandonment which are bearable normally are made unbearable during this time.

In my experience there are no easy answers. Although I am ever grateful to kind friends who invite me to share Christmas with their family, it can never compensate for the sense of loss. Sometimes it can even heighten it.

Sometimes I wonder if being alone just makes us more aware that we do not know ourselves. Over time I have got to know myself and to enjoy my own company. This lessened the feelings of loneliness during celebrations like Christmas. An important factor was to realise that I was loved even without the presence of another person. I learned to love myself and to feel love while alone. But this took time.

Now I share it with my greyhound. I look forward to being with him and sharing the love I feel. Tomorrow I will enjoy my friendships and celebrate what I do have, but at the same time there will be a dull ache for what I no longer have.

What I hope to express through this post is that you are not alone even if you have no one with you. You are loved and my heart goes out to you. Tomorrow as others celebrate with their loved ones, remember you are loved too. Remember that everyone of us will go through times of loneliness. In this, at least we are never alone. Ch

Message me if you want to chat.

In love, Jenny

Christmas is nearly here, and excitement is everywhere. People are rushing about for last minute presents. Families are preparing to gather. But for some of us the festive season is not a happy time and stress overrides any positive feelings.

Memories of past Christmases cross my mind and my body tenses.  Without realizing it, I shut down to the world around me as I re-live the past. As the triggers are subconscious, the anxiety builds up before I notice it. If you are like me and wish you did not react this way, take heart, you are not alone. For many of us our reactions are not premeditated. Instead, they are our body’s reaction to past trauma and are perfectly normal. The important bit is that we realise what we are doing and work our way back to reality.

Let’s face it, we do not want to go back to who we were at the time of the trauma. I know that I am a different person now. It is not possible for me to return to my behaviour and thoughts of 30 years ago. The time between then and now is filled with different experiences, different relationships, and happier memories.

So, when you feel these physical reactions, don’t assume that you are back in that place again. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are a different person now and you can never fit in the dysfunction out of which you have grown.

Instead, find a place to relax, listen to soothing music, distance yourself from those things which trigger your stressors and remember who you are now. You have come a long way from that person who lived in the past. You have grown, you are different, and you are more like your true self.

After all, isn’t that what growth is all about, becoming more like us?

And, if you are in a stressful situation this Christmas, have the courage to seek help. There is always hope. You are worth it!

If you would like to chat, please message me.

In love, Jenny

Dieting has never worked for me. I cannot deny myself rich, fatty, sweet foods by forcing myself to abstain from them for a specified period. Ironically, the very act of dieting causes me to focus on food more than ever. The cravings increase and my eating disorder takes over. The thought of self-denial through food just gives me the horrors! My desire to eat unhealthily is to compensate for something I am lacking. So, to deny myself food is to starve myself of a deeper need.

Dieting is a temporary act of abstaining from foods which are likely to cause weight gain. It can develop into repeated weight loss and weight gain as we are unable to maintain the strict regime long term. Hence the term “yo-yo diet.” Often, the resulting weight gain is greater than the loss we have made.

Heres’ the thing: when you go on a diet, you deny yourself the foods you love the most, while yearning for them. You force yourself to suffer by saying that it will end when you have reached your goal. When you have attained your goal weight, you head straight back into your natural dietary habits. But this time, you are desperate to satiate the demons within and, you gain the weight back and some more along with it. Yo-yo dieting is not only self-defeating, and a form of self-punishment, it is also unhealthy. The repeated change in weight stresses our body and has a negative effect on our metabolism.

The better way is to satisfy the need for nurture and understanding with self-compassion. When I gave myself these things, the cravings stopped, and my diet improved. This is how I have lost my weight - not by denying myself food but by acknowledging my inner demons and sorting them through, then I had the freedom to make healthier choices.

Maintainable weight loss is a process of integrating healthy food choices into our daily life. The weight loss may be slow, but the change is easier to maintain. By making slight changes to our lives, we can sustain a healthy lifestyle in the long term. Instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on improving your health. Slowly integrate lifestyle changes that are maintainable long-term, and I guarantee you will not only lose weight, but you will gain health.

For ideas about how to integrate a healthy diet into your lifestyle, message me for a chat.

In love, Jenny

Addiction is a symptom of trauma. In my case addiction was my way of coping with unexpressed emotion from trauma. These feelings ran deep and were never expressed. Why was this so? Because I did not others would understand. Nor did I feel they would give me the space to be heard. It was not until I felt heard that the journey out of my eating disorder began.

My closest friend had listened for hours to my story. She stood with me in my depression. Her tolerance and consistency eventually convinced me to trust her. When she said she would miss me if I died, I trusted her words and they changed my life. Her words pierced my heart, going beyond the hardened exterior of rejection and touching the softness of the deepest part of my soul. I felt understood and loved.

Rejection was my normal as a child, always a problem and often forgotten by my siblings. By the time I reached adulthood, I expected indifference. There seemed to be no relief – except with my closest friends. Fee had understood that I was hurting, although she had no concept of the depth of my pain. She had wondered if I would ever have a healthy self-esteem.  

But those words gave me what I needed – someone wanted me. She would miss me if I was absent.

As I look back at that stage of my life, I am in awe of and grateful for the powerful love I felt through my friend. This was the result of a friendship forged through difficulty. She had earned my trust and I believed her.

What will it take for you to trust that you, too are worthy of love? What will it take for you to feel such a depth of acceptance that you no longer need to use food, alcohol, drugs, or any other substance to take you from your pain?

In your effort to change your behaviour, please understand that addiction is much deeper than this. Addiction is always the result of some form of trauma. Be kind to yourself.

If you want to chat, please message me.

In love, Jenny

Today dreamy and I went to the beach where we met some friends. We had a great day walking on the soft sand, water rushing over our feet and, the sun and the fresh breeze against our skin. Dreamy ran in and out of the water to cool himself in the hot sun. Our time was uplifting and refreshing. I have arrived home feeling tired and happy.

Walking on soft sand at the beach is a great way to exercise different muscles. Without going very far I can move different parts of my body in different ways. My feet sink into soft the sand forcing me to work harder to walk. In deeper water my thighs are strengthened by pushing against the flow. At the end of the day, I am more tired than walking 3.6km around our Blue Lake where I exercise the same muscles every walk.

For me, the added benefit of the sea or the Blue Lake is being out in nature where I get my daily dose of vitamin D. My aim with any exercise is to make everyday life easier and to enjoy walking and gardening with less pain.

I have lost my weight by integrating exercise into every part of my life. This includes hiking, walking on the beach, gardening, and playing with my dog. Exercise is now a vital part of my wellbeing and I do not like miss my daily walks. I have never used the gym to lose weight, only to work on strengthening specific muscles to improve other aspects of my life, including walking. Currently, I attend a gym once a week to spotlight certain muscles such as my glutes to help me stand more upright.

In short, it is not necessary to go to a gym to lose weight. There are many ways to exercise. I prefer to exercise outside rather than inside. It’s up to you.

If you want to chat about exercise options, please message me.

This picture is of my friends and myself at the beach.

In love, Jenny