A resource for hearing and validating before shifting the focus to recovery.
What does it feel like to live with an eating disorder? What does the ‘eating disorder voice’ say and how do we challenge those messages? What supports recovery and what gets in the way? How can we help reduce the isolation and shame surrounding eating disorders?
These are some of the questions that are guiding the current development of a set of cards called Eating Disorders & Other Shadowy Companions. Due for release early next year, this resource is for people living with an eating disorder and those who walk alongside them—family, friends, counsellors, teachers and health professionals.
The lead author is Danni McDougall, an art therapist and senior mental health practitioner.
‘Many people say that having an eating disorder is like being stuck in a prison of your own mind that feels impossible to get out of. I believe that this experience needs to be heard and validated before the focus can shift to recovery,’ says Danni.
‘An eating disorder is an illness, like a broken leg. No-one feels shame about breaking a leg or how long it takes to heal. In creating these cards I wanted to open up conversations about what it’s like to have an eating disorder, and challenge some of the isolation and shame that people living with eating disorders often feel.’
The artist for these cards, Fiona Mansfield, has brought to life three characters to help express the breadth and depth of living with an eating disorder. You will meet Ed, the Eating Disorder Monster. Ed is not demonised for this character came into being to serve a purpose, but now causes havoc and takes up way too much space. You will also meet Reggie, the Recovery Rhino. Reggie is larger than life too. More than up to the task, Reggie is a steadfast source of nurturing and solace. And at the centre of it all is Bird. Bird is you, me, your brother or sister, mother or father, friend or colleague. Bird is the one living with an eating disorder.
These three quirky characters are accompanied by a question on every card to gently open up hopeful possibilities, if they are wanted.
Because these cards depict what happens in our mind and lives when we are under pressure, they can also be used to describe living with other ‘shadowy companions’ like addiction, depression and anxiety.
We will let you know when Eating Disorders & Other Shadowy Companions is nearing release.