This is part two of Kalina’s blog’s about her descent into an eating disorder, and how Pilates is helping her form a better connection to her body. You can read Part 1 here.
In sharing her story Kalina is hoping that it will help others who may find themselves in similar situations.
Pilates – hope in my anorexic world
For those who have not heard or know little about anorexia let me please introduce you to this world –
“Anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition.
People who have anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough food or exercising too much, or both. This can make them very ill because they start to starve.
They often have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat even when they’re underweight.”
I hope that this short excerpt from the NHS website can give you a rough idea of what an anorexic person is going through.
For me anorexia means a lot more.
It means anxiety, sleepless nights, crying, “feeling” fat, avoiding people, starving, binging, purging, struggling to make small decisions, feeling tired, confused, sad, upset, angry and lonely. It also means counting calories, obsessive thinking about food, loving it, hating it, focusing on the number on the scale.
To sum up, it is not the most exciting place to be. I have definitely seen better.
In my anorexic world there are days when I feel like I am trapped in a box. It is dark and tight inside. I am curled, scared and cannot see the way out.
I believe that one picture is worth more than a thousand words, so I thought I would share with you a painting by my friend after I described my feelings to him.
This is how anorexia feels to me.
So… I am in the box, but you can also see a butterfly above. It is beautiful, it symbolises hope.
It tells me that recovery is possible, that I can do it, I can be on the other side.
Pilates and Hope
On my journey to recovery I met Jill and was introduced to Pilates. That meeting gave me hope, helped me to see that with patience, kindness to my body and positive energy I can become a butterfly, I can spread my wings.
My experience begins when I enter the studio – a cosy room decorated with neutral colours filled in with a smell of beautiful essential oil. It reaches my senses, it makes me calmer. I can experience the energy of this place, Jill’s energy. People are friendly. I feel like I am where I want to be, where I am taken care of.
When the class starts my clenched jaw and uptight shoulders release. I focus on my breathing, and pay attention to my body. I can close my eyes (if the posture is not too complicated ;-)), experience and sense.
It is a rare time when I do not think about food, when my mind is not spinning and I concentrate on now, I am in the moment. I lengthen, tone, stretch. I am developing a new relationship with my body. I am listening to it. It tells me that it is weak, so I only practise gentle movements.
One step at the time.
Feeling this weak makes me angry. How did I end up here? How could I abuse my body so much that my tissues and bones are brittle?
This anger gives me power, it gives me motivation to rebuild my strength, to recover, to live a healthy life and take care of myself.
Practising Pilates exposes me to new experiences and I want more. I can only reach for more when I am stronger, healthier, calmer.
Principles of Pilates
Concentration, breathing, centering, precision, control, movement, isolation, routine – these are the elements of Pilates. They lead me to be more self aware, appreciate my strengths and weaknesses.
Through working with my mind and body I am learning patience, persistence and I need them on my journey to recovery. When my mind starts spinning I pause, I focus and I remember Alignment, Breath, Core. I also remember that I chose to get better.
I close my eyes and I believe that I will, it is possible…
I am not a doctor or scientist, I do not have a clinical background. I am just sharing my story with a hope that it might reach someone who is struggling and feels stuck. I am struggling and I see the way out.
There is always a way out! Pilates can be a great companion while going through this labyrinth of difficulties, not only for people with eating disorders.
If you run through every day and feel lost maybe it is worth pausing and finding that true connection with yourself? Pilates can help. Would you take that journey?