Kym overcame anorexia, bulimia, depression and anxiety
Meeting darkness within - 2
I certainly didn't count on it, but at 13, I entered a pretty dark phase of my life, and one that would stick around for a while.
I had crooked teeth and an overbite which required braces that caused me much discomfort and pain when initially fitted. The throbbing in my mouth and aching in my jaw was relieved only when I held a warm hairdryer to my mouth. For the first few days I was only drinking fluids and eating soft foods. I noticed I had dropped a few kilos, and for whatever reason I started becoming obsessed with my weight.
I wasn't a big girl, I had no need to diet. In fact I was quite small, healthy and adjusting to puberty as best I could, like any teenager. I was quite a little perfectionist though, trying my best in everything I did.
I was never in the 'in crowd' at school, more the soft, sensitive, hang with the animals kinda kid. But, being a teenager, I was exposed to societies conditioning of what's good enough, what's popular and what's acceptable. I'd see those flawless girls on the cover of those glossy magazines, you know, long, flowing hair, perfect smiles and bikini bodies, and wished I was half as beautiful as them. They all seemed so perfect.
Perhaps it was the fact that I was trying to fit in, to find my way, to accept and love myself for who I was. Maybe, if I forget about all my sensitivities and devote myself to being perfect, I would be beautiful too. Maybe, this world was all too much for me and I wanted to disappear completely.
The decent into darkness happened so very quickly it was frightening. It was like i woke up one morning with a demon in my head and that had taken full possession of my entire being, mind, body and spirit.
"You're not good enough. You're not pretty enough. You're not beautiful. You're ugly. You don't fit in. You are fat. You're so very fat. Look at your tummy. Look at your thighs. Look at those pimples. Look at those crooked teeth. Look at your ugly silver braces. Your short hair, it's pathetic. You are worthless. You are lacking. You are nothing.
Get up outa bed you useless waste of space, drop and give me 20 sit ups, don't eat a thing all day, get on the scales every hour to check you're losing weight, c'mon, hurry up. We have much work to do to get you perfect. And, don't worry, you'll be perfect. So very perfect. I'm here now to save you, to make everything right. You'll see."
The dark force had me and that was it. I'd spend my days obsessing over the food I wasn't going to eat, studying the calorie counter book in great detail and exercising, passing out, and exercising some more. I hid it well, I'd wear baggy clothes, and blame my lack of eating and dramatic weight loss on my sore mouth. Yes, indeed all was perfect.
On my 16th birthday I found myself in hospital on a drip and barely surviving at 30 kilos. I'd broken out in some terrible rash, as my poor little body was trying to cope with such severe neglect and abuse. By this stage I was jaundice, my hair was falling out in clumps and I hadn't had a period for over 2 years.
It was time to call in the big guns, family, friends and medical and health professionals. Nutritionist, dietitian's, doctors and psychologists all surrounded me and said I needed help. Hang on a minute, this can't be right. I might be skinny, but I'm still not skinny enough, and I'm still fat and by the way, I'm not beautiful enough yet.
So, the demon had a plan and I was the willing accomplice excited to hear of a way to make everyone go away, make everyone stop worrying and still achieve my goal of total beauty and perfection. Or was I just numbing the pain of existence, even further. The plan was a good one, I liked it a lot, it would work a treat. I would start eating again only to throw it all back up. How perfect. Welcome to Bulimia.
Oh my god. As if the starvation of anorexia wasn't abuse enough, I met the putrid, vile face of bulimia, and it's hold on me was even more frightening. The road got darker, and ever so disgusting, I was full of self hate. I began the vicious, manipulative cycle of being totally obsessed with scoffing down food and purging it back up again.
On my worst days I would binge and purge 10 times. I'd eat anything and everything, cunningly devising a plan on where, and when to throw it all back up. My life revolved around this horrid obsession. It was beyond ugly and believe me it wreaked. I was in total chaos. My throat would bleed, my stomach convulse, and I often thought I'd choke in the process.
But, I was maintaining my weight, nobody knew what I was doing, at least that's what I thought and I was in full control. However, I still wasn't beautiful, I still wasn't pretty and I sure as hell wasn't perfect.
Over the years that followed, I managed to finish school, go to college and get a job. Even though the bingeing and purging had lessened, it still followed me around like a bad smell. It was my go-to in times of stress. Can't cope with something, eat and be sick. Boyfriend dumped me, eat and be sick. Bad day at work, eat and be sick. It was the cure for all things, for in those brief moments of the bingeing high all the pain went away, it was total bliss, and nothing else mattered. And, just to make sure I didn't pay for my addiction in weight, I would rush to the nearest bathroom and be free of it all. As shocking as this lifestyle was at times, it was somehow a comfort and safety from facing the real world, which I still felt I didn't belong.
It was like a disease in my mind. It had me. It would raise its ugly head every now and then just to let me know whose in charge. No matter where I went, no matter what I did, it was still hanging around in the dark recesses of my mind. I'd change jobs, change locations, try new things, meet new friends, but, it always came with me.
I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I had no idea the power of the darkness. I didn't realize how wounded I was. I was in total denial of all of it for so long. I didn't want to appear I was broken. I was afraid to ask for help. I was so ashamed of myself. I was so scared there was something terribly wrong with me. I was my own worst enemy, and I hated that about me. I'd achieved nothing except a gold medal in self hate and beating my own self up.
Life went on. It was time to travel, explore and take an adventure overseas, I just hoped this sickness wasn't coming along for the ride, by this time I just wanted it all to go away as I'd really had enough. Anorexia and bulimia had infected over 10 years of my life, and I was determined to survive it. And, this was not how my story was going to end.
"At any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety". Abraham Maslow
What I learnt from this painful experience was:
Some things are beyond our control. What's going to happen will happen, and sometimes you just got to let life have its way with you.
There was nothing 'wrong' with me, when I first met this darkness, but it opened my eyes to what is very wrong with this world.
Only you can save yourself, and when you're ready to make positive change you will.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.
You cannot connect the dots looking forward.
Be brave my dear, be brave. Have the courage to look at the real issue, bring what's dark to the light.
All I really needed was to love myself exactly as I was.
The Gift - Chapter 5
It was your typical cold wintery afternoon in London in when I was exiting the tube station in the pretty village of Southfields, near Wimbledon. Crowds of people on the hustle, shoulder charges and stressed out faces. At this particular time I was still temping as a PA to an investment banker in the very corporate Canary Wharf district.
Even though I was refreshed from my week away at the temple, back in the city I was still feeling a bit lost, a bit blue, trying to find my way in the world. All I knew, at this point, was this, I knew what I didn't want, and maybe that was enough. I didn't want to get swallowed up in the madness, societal conditioning of work, and money, only to consume things, retire and die. The materialistic world had never interest me, in fact, it bored me to tears.
A beautiful, peaceful looking lady named Raya, handed me a flyer about her upcoming yoga classes, I took one, had a glance and was mesmerised. I knew right then, and there, that this was 'a moment', a significant encounter for me and my life. I remember the goosebumps, and the feeling of time standing still. A very significant opportunity had presented itself to me so effortlessly, like it was laid out long before my presence there.
As time was standing still, I remember thinking about all the people who I've witnessed coming out of yoga classes and the faces of those who practice yoga and was overcome with a feeling of peace and grace. I looked around at those in the corporate world, and I looked at myself and knew that that path was no longer for me.
I raced home, yoga flyer in hand, all excited like I just got the last golden ticket to Willy Wonkers Chocolate Factory. I quickly changed from my heavy office attire into some leggings and a top, already feeling lighter and free. I grabbed my yoga mat, mind you I had never taken a yoga class before, but I had one, maybe just to be cool, just in case.
I marched up that steep hill like I was on a mission from God, keen to know what all the fuss of yoga was about, and open to all the possibilities to come. I met the teacher, paid my dues, found a comfortable spot to roll out my mat and sat there in silence.
The room was dark and cozy, the soft light of the candles and calming music all creating a sacred space to simply just be. I really didn't need to do anything else, I was already feeling at home, at peace and right where I belong.
The teacher instructed a beautiful beginner class, like a conductor creating a harmony and symphony for us all to play. My favorite part, of course, after an hour of graceful stretches was final relaxation, known as savasana. I lay down on my mat, eyes closed, and she said.....connect with your inner peace. That was it! I felt I had struggled, searched, explored both the depths of my soul and the temples of the universe to find the real treasure, the light, and I touched it and felt it within me.
That was it, I was awake, and I was hooked. Every Monday evening for the next 6 months I would begin my pilgrimage up the hill, to what felt like another world, a world that was drawing me in ever so delicately.
I have battled with myself for many years, overcoming anorexia and bulimia as a teenager, and depression and anxiety as an adult. In those sweet, precious moments on the mat, I found peace, I met myself with love, acceptance, forgiveness and grace.
Realizing the powerful transformation that was taking place within me, I could only think of others, I felt I had struck gold, and all I wanted to do now was to help others and share this ancient knowledge and practice in the hope that they too could find their way to inner peace.
So, the slow infusion had begun. I was soaking this new energy up and absorbing its light into every cell within my being like an ancient golden elixir from the heavens. I felt I had met my destiny, and it was incredible. And, perhaps the universe knew that I had got what I had came for because things changed course very quickly.
It's amazing how things happen. That night I received a phone call from my Dad, who informed me that my mother has just had a stroke, was in hospital and not doing so well. It was tough, Dad was crying, and I was thousands of miles away. My heart sank, tears fell and I knew I needed to get back to Australia as soon as possible.
My dear mother had suffered from failing health for many years, she'd already survived a cerebral hemorrhage 10 years prior which had left her partially blind and disabled. So, with that, I packed up my things, said goodbye to friends and made my way back to my family.
It was kinda surreal flying back to Australia, reflecting on all the experiences I'd had, coming home so much richer in spirit and awareness in my being. This gave me great comfort no matter what the future held, in this moment, I was grateful and trusting.
'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear' Buddha