Monthly Archives: December 2008

2 years of carnival of eating disorders!

welcome to two years of the carnival of eating disorders!

yes, it’s been two years as of today. here’s how it all started:

if you’re not familiar with blog carnivals, you may think this is an odd name – this link here will tell you more about blog carnivals. this carnival contains articles about bulimia, anorexia, orthorexia, body image and overeating gathered from other blogs.

i’d like to tell you right off that this carnival is not about dieting – for a very simple reason. dieting is usually the last thing needed by people who struggle with food. the majority of them already know pretty much all they need to know, and more.

difficulties around food often start quite early in a person’s life. for the first few years, these difficulties are often not taken very seriously. this is frequently followed by a period of immersing oneself in a variety of efforts to lose weight, which tends to be accompanied with reading up on (and following) information about dieting and nutrition.

for some people, that does the trick, and serious problems with food never become chronic. for others, though, this is the beginning of a downward spiral, centered around an obsession with eating food and losing weight. interestingly enough, this is the same for people who overeat and those who undereat – only how they go about these activities differs.

what helps in these situations is not yet another diet but a whole different outlook and set of behaviours around eating and body image.

what do you think? is this a valid introduction to a description of eating disorders? the only thing i would change today would be to add a sentence somewhere about body image because one way or another, that’s a related issue for everyone.

after this long introduction, i’ll do the same this time around that i do with the buddhist carnival (which also appears here on change therapy) and post this carnival in two parts. don’t want to make you work too hard, seeing that you need to get going with your new year’s eve celebrations 🙂  here’s part one, then:

anorexia and gay men
at the new gay, an insightful 2-part series on the experiences of a gay man falling prey to, and then recovering from, anorexia:

i was a full-on feminist in every sense of the word – save one. my unrelenting best friend, who always kept me in check, fiercely and consistently pointed out how hypocritical i was being in obsessing over my body. one day she put her foot down. she demanded that i sit and not get up until i had read an essay titled the body politic in an anthology of writings by third-wave feminists called listen up: voices from the next feminist generation. i acquiesced, annoyed. i was never the same.

well, as you can imagine – that book went right on my books to read shelf!

yoga: a new way to fight anorexia and bulimia
eating disorders are complex; so are the ways in which people recover. reading a book helps one person; yoga is a key element of recovery for others:

after carolyn coston took her first yoga class, she burst into tears. “this is not a real workout!” she thought. coston, then in her 20s, had recovered from anorexia but was battling an exercise addiction.

“i was used to pounding the pavement and burning tons of calories,” said coston, who had dropped 45 pounds at the height of her anorexia.

that was 30 years ago. thousands of sun salutations later, the trim but healthy blonde is grateful for the way yoga taught her to respect her body and helped her keep her anorexia and exercise addiction at bay.

bulimia is a dental disease
i was really excited to see this blog post and to hear about the book. it’s so important for health professionals to work together in helping people with eating disorders recover. like all chronic or long-lasting conditions, it doesn’t take long at all for an eating disorder to affect all areas of one’s life – one could say that that’s when the difficulties really start to set in. in that sense, health professionals who deal with chronic or persistent conditions could take a page from addiction specialists: the severity of the addiction is often measured by how much it affects the rest of one’s life. it’s not just about how much gin you pour down the chute if you’re an alcoholic or how many hours you spend on the treadmill if you’re an exercise addict – it’s what happens after and around that. how much time do you get to spend with your family if you’re busy at the bar or at the gym? what does obesity do to a person’s knees and feet? in my experience, eating disorder specialists do look at these issues but it’s the other health professionals – people in sports medicine, orthopedics and yes, dentistry – who will do well in educating themselves better in this area.

so much for my rant. let’s see what tiptoe from between living and existing has to say:

we all know that eating disorders can wreck havoc on oral health. bulimia, most notably can take a heavier toll at first symptoms which continue to accumulate further as the eating disorder progresses. in this press release, dr. brian mckay, a dentist in seattle, discusses his new book, bulimia is a dental disease.mckay’s goal is not only to educate about the damage of bulimia to one’s oral health, but also to bring together the dental community in helping eating disorder clients. mckay says, “we need a change in the standard of care. dentists must form alliances with eating disorder professionals. together we can treat both the mental and oral aspects of this disease and the result should be a higher success rate. there is nothing more inviting than seeing someone smile again.”

read here for the rest.

that’s it for today. i’ll be posting the rest some time by january 7.  in the meantime, do you have, or do you know, a post that would be a good addition to this carnival? if so, please submit it here or drop me a line, and we can enjoy it next month, at the carnival of eating disorders on january 31.

addiction and creativity

i’m back from kelowna, after a somewhat tense 6-hour drive (some stretches were a bit treacherous), followed by one hour’s worth of snow shovelling.  so i’m going to go to bed now and will cede this space to someone else, creativity coach eric maisel.  here he talks about his new book, creative recovery:

creative recovery, the book that susan raeburn and i recently wrote describing a complete addiction recovery program for creative people, just received a very nice library journal review. here is the review in its entirety.

“therapist and creativity coach maisel (fearless creating; the creativity book) and clinical psychologist raeburn illustrate how creativity both contributes to addiction and is a tool for recovery. in the first of three sections, entitled ‘preparing,’ the authors begin by expanding upon the biological and other risks for addiction and explore the abuse continuum. the next section, ‘working,’ is devoted to the foundation of recovery, awareness, which can be enhanced through creative talents, and addiction challenges, including an acceptance of the need to change. finally, in ‘living,’ the authors emphasize that recovery is an ongoing, lifelong process, and they expand upon and reinforce the role played by creativity, which provides an artistic outlet to express the hope, strength, and wholeness of continued recovery. including an extensive list of resources, this informative, insightful, and valuable book is recommended for large public and academic library collections focusing on addiction and addiction recovery.”

here is a brief excerpt from the book:

the short story “the bound man,” by the german author ilse aichinger, is a beautiful piece in the existential tradition. it goes as follows. a man awakens one morning to find himself inexplicably bound by rope.

instead of removing the rope at his first opportunity, as we might expect him to do, he decides to remain bound and to become a circus attraction, turning his accidental bondage into his trademark work. how strange! why would a person happily accept such bondage? it is similar to the question that franz kafka poses in “the hunger artist,” where a man, who also chooses to become a circus attraction, starves himself to death because he can’t find food that interests him. these authors are asking variations of the following vital question: “why do people carelessly, inexplicably, and even happily do things that harm them so much?”

one of the things that people do that harms them, but that they nevertheless hold on to as if they were benefiting from it, is to get addicted and to stay addicted. not for anything can you pry them away from their alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, internet surfing, video-game playing, overeating, shopping, or sexual escapades. tell them that they are dying: no matter. tell them that they are wasting half their life in front of a computer screen or in the aisles of department stores: no matter. remind them that they can’t have love or a real life if they use sex as a drug: no matter. point out that their liver is already not functioning, that their nasal lining is already perforated, or that their lungs are already black: no matter. what you experience as you talk to an addicted individual is that he or she is completely indifferent to your good arguments.

creative people, our best and our brightest, squarely fall into the category of people at high risk for addiction-people who accept the “happy bondage” of an addiction even though they might be expected to know better. it isn’t just romantic mythology that creative people are more prone than their peers to succumb to the lure of an addiction. it is a fact, and there are many reasons for this. as we proceed we will explain these reasons: why, in addition to the biological, social, psychological, and developmental risk factors that confront many people, extra risk factors confront the creative person. for now we just want to get on the table that the risk is significantly greater for you if you are creative. that is a fact.

if you are creative, at how high a risk for an addiction are you? consider what tom dardis has to say in the **thirsty muse: “of the seven native-born americans awarded the nobel prize in literature, five were alcoholic. the list of other twentieth-century american writers similarly afflicted is very long; only a few of the major talents have been spared.

in addition to the five nobel laureates–sinclair lewis, eugene o’neill, william faulkner, ernest hemingway and john steinbeck–the roster includes edward arlington robinson, jack london, edna st. vincent millay, f. scott fitzgerald, hart crane, conrad aiken, thomas wolfe, dashiell hammett, dorothy parker, ring lardner, djuna barnes, john o’hara, james gould cozzens, tennessee williams, john berryman, carson mccullers, james jones, john cheever, jean stafford, truman capote, raymond carver, robert lowell and james agee.”

you don’t have to be a creative superstar to run extra risks for addiction. our clients and patients fall everywhere along the spectrum from unknown to established, from “sunday painter” to world-famous, from someone who manifests her creativity by knitting to someone who manifests her creativity by fabricating monumental public sculptures. we work with individuals who don’t know what they want to create and who can’t seem to access their creativity and with individuals who know exactly what they want to create and who work obsessively to manifest their ideas and their intentions. what links all of these people and makes them more alike than different is their felt sense that creativity matters to them, that it is a part of who they are. if you can say that about yourself, then you are a member of this family-and run added risks for addiction.

here is the site of eric maisel’s books and services, and one of his blogs, the eric maisel creativity central blog.

wishing you a happy youtube christmas

for those of you who like to spend the holidays surfing the web – here are some christmas videos i gathered over the last few weeks. i tried to make them a bit unusual.

and the funny thing is, i’m at my in-laws’ right now where my internet access is limited – so i have no idea what the videos are about, except for the first three. so i guess you’ll have to take them out of the HTML wrapping yourself, click, and see what you get!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvkWm4YluCo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZfxgafw5RA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMzN3KqRnHA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABjzvhJ3EtA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4JGIl87oIc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMH86_UqFw4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDXZLt6EqQM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMZjypMN0Xo&feature=channel_page

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuTJemJ9MIQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_vZG5j9lvY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcz4z0VONEY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4FW4pukdFI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg_dsk7u26A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lnq7rG1uGo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdS4tsZhyB8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MajsSgDCBo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAiG_iKMoek&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zm9RmfNZIA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoAEXfqNvUE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoc3AOJ_8i8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBONiLXOUvA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9sNPGqaphk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VkZx_GWRvI&feature=related

last minute, long-lasting christmas gifts

if you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that i’m generally not a big fan of prayers sent along via emails, or similar material (see my rant against the email with the prayer of saint theresa, for example). but once in a while something comes along in my inbox that really touches me.

here is a suggestion for a whole different sort of christmas gifts:

mend a quarrel.
seek out a forgotten friend.
write a long overdue love note.
hug someone tightly and whisper, “i love you so.”
forgive an enemy.
be gentle and patient with an angry person.
gladden the heart of a child.
find the time to keep a promise.
make or bake something for someone else. anonymously.
release a grudge.
listen.
speak kindly to a stranger.
enter into another’s sorrow.
smile.
laugh a little.
laugh a little more.
take a walk with a friend.
lessen your demands on others.
play some beautiful music during the evening meal.
apologize if you were wrong.
turn off the television and talk.
treat someone to an ice-cream cone (yogurt would be fine).
do the dishes for the family.
pray for someone who helped you when you hurt.
fix breakfast on saturday morning.
give a soft answer even though you feel strongly.
encourage an older person.
point out one thing you appreciate most about someone you work with or live near.
offer to baby-sit for a weary mother.

(it turns out this comes from day by day with charles swindoll)

a mystery about weight and shame: two weeks under

here’s another book i read recently – two weeks under, by rivka tadjer.

doing these book reviews reminds me a bit of my aunt. she loved buying clothes but she’d often get sick of them real quick, and then she’d ask me if i wanted them. she was 40 years older than i so – well, as you can imagine, as a 22-year-old, i didn’t quite share her taste. but she’d always urge me to try them on anyway (we did wear the same size) and i was often amazed how good her pink polyester set or her brown tweed skirt would look on me.

two weeks under was a little like that. i’m not quite sure what you’d call the genre because i rarely read this sort of book; it did remind me a bit of confessions of a shopaholic (which i managed to read 2/3 through). what would you call that genre? let’s ask amazon. oh yeah, chick lit. two weeks under is also a mystery but not the mystery that i tend to read (i like tough-wounded-but-compassionate-guy stuff, and irresponsible-funny-guy stuff, that kind of thing; robert b. parker is my guy!) perhaps it’s chick lit mystery?

here’s the description from amazon:

elana diamond’s 35th birthday isn’t much to celebrate. she’s still alone and depressed, so this year the make-a-wish-candles can do you-know-what with themselves. and her archrival at work, who thanks to her flawless judgment also happens to be her ex-fiancé, is being groomed to fire her. fighting to keep her job, she can’t afford to pay attention to her non-existent personal life, much less the sudden rash of suicides going on in manhattan. all professional women, all just like her. then someone closely connected to elana becomes the next suicide. she can no longer ignore the dying women, or anything else. an intense, secretive reporter surfaces, claims to be a friend, but he’s a little too knowledgeable, a little too curious. reluctantly, elana tries to figure out why the suicide happened, and if this reporter is involved. she finds herself lured into a consuming world of shame and dieting, where going under a medically induced vanity coma to lose weight makes sense. a kind neurologist tries to help, but when elana finds out what really happened with the suicide, she’s in so deep she might not survive it. anyone who tries to help her won’t either. and no one seems interested in facing the truth. racing against time, and fighting her own demons, elana must try to find enough evidence for the truth to be heard, whether or not she makes it.

what i found interesting was the way tadjer treated the subject of being overweight.

145 pounds, 5-foot-6. disgusted, she studies her lumpy, clearly 35-year-old self in the shower.

honey, that’s not overweight. it’s a woman who, depending on her frame, may have some soft spots on her but overweight is something else. i couldn’t quite decide whether tadjer really believed that numbers like that were overweight, whether she wanted the reader to think that the protagonist thought that was too much when it really wasn’t, or whether she hadn’t done her research (the last option is unlikely – she teaches journalism at SUNY).

now i may be splitting hairs here – but if the target readership is women who are battling with weight, then they will probably ask themselves questions like that, too.

fortunately, rivka tadjer has a blog, so hopefully she’ll read this and help us clear this up. consider yourself tagged, rivka! (does the answer lie, perhaps, in your definition of the term “weightism”?)

tadjer does a good job at bringing out the deep yet only superficially articulated feelings of shame that plague women who are struggling with their weight, as well as the uneasy, disjointed and a lot of other un- and dis- relationships such women have with their mothers:

i spent a lot of time alone when i was a kid, so as horrible as it sounds, being alienated came kind of naturally. i guess you can inherit loneliness. and when you’re alone, you start guessing at what’s right, and you start judging yourself, harshly.

well, my mother was the first to do that. she always wanted me to be more – smarter, neater, better dressed, more doting, better looking. she told me i did things wrong all the time, didn’t show me how to do them properly, and then she’d pepper in that i shouldn’t push myself too hard, success isn’t everything.

on that same page, there’s also an intriguing sentence, “i’ve been the ayn rand of my own body.” i wonder what exactly is meant by that.

how cool, to be able to ask the author these questions. i’m looking forward to your answers, rivka!

if you’re looking for an easy read over the holidays but want something a little different than a mindless romance novel, two weeks under will hit the spot.

buddhist carnival – december 2008 edition, part 2

here is part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival. part 1 can be found here.

balance
one of the things that attract me so strongly to buddhism is the idea of moderation and balance. i love the story of the buddha attaining enlightenment not through his years of asceticism but after accepting a modest drink of milk and honey from a young woman. this is walking the middle way.

grace talks about the balance that is such a hallmark of the well-lived buddhist life. i love the story she tells to illustrate it:

i walked along a favourite creek not too long ago. it is in a pristine slot canyon, with high red rock walls on either side. to get to the spring at the end, i must criss-cross the water a dozen times.

each crossing is different. some are easy, with large flat rocks. in some, poles have been placed across the water, and i must balance with one foot on each log, in an awkward, hitch-step fashion to reach the other side.
as i get deeper into the canyon –

read a balanced life to see what happens there …

accessible buddhism
my good friend carol sill has an exciting new site, called opensourcespirit.org. on it, she interviews people from all walks of spiritual life, usually on video. here is an interview with peter fenner from radiant mind, who talks as eloquently about the various strains of buddhism as about his approach to making buddhist ideas accessible to all.

change
william at integral options, where he tirelessly scoures the blogosphere for interesting material, has a thoughtful article on change, inspired by two articles that he discusses at length. one is about changing ourselves:

we can’t change the world, we can’t change our country, we can’t even change our family members, but we can change ourselves. wanting to change others is attachment – a clinging to the way we want things to be rather than working with things as they are.

and the other about leaving the box of safety or, as they say in german, “jumping over your shadow”:

as long as we remain in our comfort zones, change is not very likely to happen. we know we are open to change when we live on the edge of our personal safety. and this does not mean physical safety, but rather those feelings and situations that create anxiety, such as a personal or national crises.

12-step meditation meetings
darren littlejohn presents how to start a 12-step sangha meeting posted at the 12 step buddhist.

the reason i started 12-step sangha was to focus on meditation as part of a recovery program, not as a substitute. i’ve included the format we’ve been using below, but in a simpler version. the idea was to use some buddhist meditation techniques, but to keep the style, topics and sharing oriented to recovery. this is different than a buddhist style group that allows recovering people.

tibetan philosophy
loden jinpa is a buddhist scholar, and opens for us doors into buddhist philosophy that we may sometimes not even know exist. one of the great teachers he discusses on his blog is tsong khapa. here is a little introduction:

tsong khapa’s overall enterprise and in particular his insight into the illusory-like nature of persons and phenomena is about solving the problem of existential suffering. the solution to this problem is found in the extirpation of ignorance – the ignorance that reifies essence in things and functions as the root cause of suffering. it is the root of suffering, as it pervades the cognitive process for ordinary unenlightened beings propelling them into dysfunctional actions.

read on here

the dalai lama’s successor
on now public:

the dalai lama opened his much anticipated meeting with the international media here on sunday with a terse “i have nothing to say”, but went on to indicate that he was ready to pass on his political role to tibetans in exile and choose his successor, probably a young girl, in his lifetime. in his 90-minute interaction with the media, the nobel laureate made many remarks that are sure to irk china and cause some anxiety in new delhi. he said tibet’s cause was linked up with the question of democracy in china and that india’s approach to the tibetan issue was “too cautious”.

therion, a fellow canadian, sends us the story of a different successor: ram bahadur bomjon : buddha boy back from the jungle

and finally, two more contributions. axel presents zen-like living, and igor talks about what his rabbits taught him about buddhism.

that’s it for this year! if you have a buddhist blog post you’d like to contribute, please send it to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

thanks!