I can hardly believe I am the same person who lived in the darkness of an eating disorder for four decades, but I know I am, and this makes life more beautiful
Two events have made 2013 very special for me – Australia’s first national conference for families and carers on eating disorders, held at Brisbane in May, and a book research trip, kindly aided by the Butterfly Foundation, to the UK, USA and Canada in September and October.
The ‘At Home with Eating Disorders Conference’ was a big success and another conference is planned for 2015. I was on the main committee and co-chair of the program committee. We have a great need in our country, as elsewhere, for more education on eating disorders, and more support for families in their own home, and parents came from across Australia to learn from the wonderful international and local researchers who were there to share their knowledge.
A highlight was the launch of a worldwide research project, the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI), to study the DNA of people who have had or have Anorexia Nervosa – I find this genetic research hugely exciting and felt honored to be invited to help Prof. Cindy Bulik and others promote this cause in Australia. The aim is to get 25,000 DNA samples, and Australia’s contribution is 1200. Within four weeks, we already had more than half that number.
The day I gave a blood sample for this research was one of the happiest and most meaningful in my life – 50
years after I had developed the illness, here I was, able to contribute to understanding the illness and to finding a cause. (See also, the UK’s great contribution, Charlotte’s Helix).
The Brisbane conference was important in another way, too, for it included the launch of two of my new books on eating disorders – making a total of six books in six years. One of these was ‘Ed says U said” co-authored with Cate Sangster, and the other was as co-author new edition of Janet Treasure’s classic Anorexia Nervosa_A Recovery Guide for Sufferers, Families and Friends.
pretty English countryside to Stirling in Scotland, to Manchester, Bristol, Hull and Cambridge. In London I was based at the Maudsley Hospital, which is the mental health research part of King’s College. I am writing the book My Family is Back with Prof. Ivan Eisler, a pioneer researcher of this wonderful treatment which helps many families. Research for this book also took me to Washington DC, (where I greatly enjoyed visiting with inspirational Laura Collins and catching up with many other friends and advocate colleagues and making new friends, at the NEDA conference), and on to Toronto and San Diego, for a week at the University of California. Came home with a bunch of interview recordings, which I have transcribed, into 100,000 words – aiming to refine these into first draft of manuscript by end of January.
My orchard gives much pleasure – this year I’ve enjoyed munching on the first harvest of loquats (happy childhood memory relived), and the plums are getting big and juicy, almost ready to eat. After Christmas the apples will be ready to eat, and there are orange, apple, plum, fig, lemon, lime and mandarin trees. I also have a vegetable garden – with tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, silver beet, green climbing beans, broccoli and butternut pumpkins all growing this summer. The grand children love to help. Especially Olivia, who is four years old today, December 23 (her great-grandmother’s birthday). My mum would be delighted to know that Olivia shares her love of flowers. She has helped me plant petunias and these provide her favourite colours of pink and purple. Olivia loves flowers, butterflies and rainbows. She also loves to draw and paint.
I hope you have had a happy year too, and that where sadness and loss have occurred, that you know the sun will shine again.