Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nip Tuck Click is a documentary about the media's role in the development of eating disorders. I speak about my personal struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

   What do you like anyone who sees this documentary to know about you?

      I’ve struggled with eating disorders for about 20 years. I developed anorexia during theonset of puberty. Eventually I developed bulimia, night time eating disorder and exercise bulimia. Along with my struggles of eating disorders I have an addictive personality. Also, I experienced brief periods of cutting and self inflicted pain.

        It’s taken my commitment to recovery about 10 years to overcome eating disorders.    I work on a daily basis to avoid triggers and relapse. Some days are easier than others depending on what’s going on in my life. 

   I’m self motivated, very private, and a strong women with great compassion for humankind. I desire to make a difference in others lives!

         I’ve experienced many tragedies before the age of 30 all of which made it even more of a challenge to get well. I’ve come to a full understanding of how my obsession with food and weight have come about. I want to share my story with others to help assist in not only their recovery but to allow family members to know they should not be held
     fully accountable for ones struggle. 

    I’m currently working as an actress and author to my memoir called MisUnderstood. MisUnderstood will be available on this spring/summer 2014.
    Blog address: 
    Sherry's book: MisUnderstood
   What would you like them to know about your journey? 
         Recovery for me was a process and it couldn’t be done alone. Recovery for me involved a team of supporters ex. Primary Dr., Nutritionist, Priest, family, friends as well as my individual will to survive.  My journey has been a long process of educating myself on the topic to understand what I was doing could in fact kill me, keep me from baring a child and destroy many lives of the people I cared about. As I separated from my eating disordered behaviors and view of the world I learned to see the world from a fresh set of eyes with clarity.  Through medications, therapy, journaling and opening my heart to re-teaching myself how to live and love again I found myself replacing negative thinking with positive thinking.  I was a broken soul of which needed repaired.
   What would you like others to know about what you've been through?   
        Nothing is glamorous about being chained to the voice of anorexia. I  weighed myself numerous times a day and felt chained to my negative reaction to my weight. 90% of my time has been wasted thinking about, weighing and preparing food as well as negative thoughts about feeling fat, not good enough. I would workout 50-75% of my day ranging from 3-8 hrs daily “Such a waste of time!!!!!” 
      Although much time was wasted I have no regrets. I believe my struggles have taught me compassion for others as well as the desire to help others come out of the darkness. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in treatment, Dr appts, emergency room visits from passing out numerous times.
 Are there words or phrases that dislike or find completely un-informed? 
       Eating disorders are about food and weight and that all you need to do is eat! In reality, something has triggered the onset of an eating disorder. With time the individual finds they cope with the stress in one’s life by using food/exercise to cope with things beyond there control. 

  Often people say recovery is not possible but…I BELIEVE RECOVERY IS A PROCESS AND  POSSIBLE TO SURVIVE!

      What recovery really means…It’s more than just eating…See page 21) 
    Are there questions people ask you over and over?
·        How many calories do you eat?
·        What was your lowest weight?
·        Why did you want to lose so much weight?
·        Did you think you were fat?
·        Did you think if you were thinner you would be more attractive?
·        What was the key factor in the development of your eating disorder? (It’s complicated genes, society, stress, peers, media…) 

Can you talk about your childhood a bit…What were you like when you were little? 

When I was young my parents moved from the city to the country. I grew up on a small farm with horses, ducks, chickens, cat’s dogs... I had an older brother who passed away from brain cancer at 30 years old and a younger sister who currently struggles with anorexia and bulimia.  I was a good kid respectful of my parents.  I took on the responsibility of cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping I remember organizing closets and writing lists and having my first planner by 4th grade. Parents worked long hours therefore a lot of responsibility fell on my shoulders (but I was ok with it as a kid I suppose I accepted my responsibilities and adapted).  I do feel I had a bit of a lost childhood…but with that said...  I was quite a mixture of being girly girl/tom boy. I loved ruffles and dirt bikes. Most children in my area where boys. I had a lot of male friends because jealousy was a non issue.  I felt a lot of stress as a child…constantly seeking approval of my parents even still to this day particularly of my father. I come from a family of 4 generations of eating disorders. The process and development of each generation struggling with anorexia/bulimia has become more complicated to treat because my sister and I have struggled the longest. 
What was your family like when you were in childhood? 
        On the outside people thought we were the perfect family. Dad had a great job in the entertainment industry, mom worked as a nurse, we had horses and a beautiful home with land. We had weekly movie and pizza night, sunday dinners, elaborate parties with friends and family (we even had a stage a few times and live bands).
     All that was wonderful and I am very grateful…but as I desired perfection and now know its unattainable I was sensitive to the ugly side behind those closed doors…My mom was withdrawn during my adolescence and spent most of her time working, with her animals. My mom showed dogs and horses. My mom  was often in chronic pain/ my brother was reckless above and beyond normal boys stuff involving guns, drugs, fights, very destructive in our home and in society…we had a very strained relationship through our childhood he was picked on a lot at school because he was short and not athletic and a bit of a slow learner…this broke my heart as a sister as I knew he simply just had no direction or guidance/My sister was quiet, sweet, sensitive…she was a tender soul. My sister looked to me as a role model and mom.
         My father was my role model. He worked hard was a man of his word. He loved his family although kind of a tough love but considering where he came from he was a great dad. My dad set high expectations for himself and others. As children we simply needed our parents around more to guide and set boundaries for us.  My parents fought a lot became 2 ships passing in the night
                          Can you remember the 1st time you were affected by the image of somone?
·        3’s company Suzanne Somers 1976-1984
·        Karen Carpenter Music and image/she died of anorexia
·        Brady Bunch the girls
·        Anita Cousin I thought she was thinner then myself but as I look back on old photo’s she wasn’t
·        A photo of my friend from age of birth until 8 who was molested as well I thought she was thinner but she was younger then myself
·        As I got older Demi Moore etc…always compared myself to stars.
 Can you talk about when your eating disorder started?
·   I started out with an innocent diet 11 years old on spring break we were cooking out and I didn’t want hamburgers and hotdogs…my uncle made the statement oh, we have a vegetarian in the family. Then I began eliminating foods meats, then fats, then breads, then sugars
· By 13 (8th grade cheerleading) I was a vegetarian no meats just dotage cheese and eggs for protein
  What were some of the emotions surrounding that time?
·        Anxious
·        In the beginning I was proud of my accomplishment and attention but by the time I was a freshman I tried to commit suicide and the attention surrounding my issues only made it worse when I was trying to get better (Because I felt anorexia controlling me and I hated feeling out of control and controlled by anything)
                        Did you ever use “digital media” or online communications such as PROANA sites during your eating disorder?
·        My eating disorder in the early stages was a time where we didn’t have as much access to these types of sites and when they were available I was on my way to recovery. My experience with those sites triggered negative behaviors and thoughts
·        I do recall searching databases for others struggling to converse on how to overcome my issues.
·        When treatment centers weren’t helping I began my search for knowledge… Pale-Reflections was a site I used to gain knowledge and diagnosis that I did in fact have an eating disorder. But that wasn’t until college age 18-22 this site has a no trigger rating just explains about eating disorders and has info on new research on the subject
·        I despise individuals who glamorize what it’s like to be sick and struggling with an eating disorder “It’s triggering, cruel and unjust!”
      Can you talk to me about triggers and how they have been a factor for you?
·        I didn’t realize what triggers were until I was in my early 20’s while in a therapy session. I learned that triggers are something that can set off an eating disorder.
·        Because my eating disorder went on for so many years different triggers affected me at different times in my life
·        Classes with a mirror aerobics, dance
·        Bad relationships with men high school sweetheart 16-21
·        Modeling/traveling with boxing/ my poster on gym wall (asked them to move it to an area I couldn’t see it)
·        California the pressures of LA training with professional athletes worked out 3 times a day with a nutritionist
·        $$ too much too fast at the age of 21/ current time not enough at times
·        Certain friends that talked about diets and weight issues
·        My parents talking about food/weight pressure to eat (moved out on my own at the age of 20)
·        Certain movies with this girls
·        Stress from committing to too much dropped out of college 4 times…But remained an honors status while seeking treatment
·        Gym…if I saw an anorexic I would not train close to them, train at different times or switch gyms all together
·        Some jobs boxing (ring girls, Budweiser girls), Papa John’s being alone with food, Cleaning hotel rooms my first year in college
·        Sometimes just isolating and being trapped in my own thoughts
******I needed to find healthier ways to deal with people and life stresses ex. Use my creativity, make new positive friends and set attainable goals for (college, work, modeling and weight)
     Did you keep your eating disorder a secret? Can you talk about your emotions you were feeling or hiding?
·        I kept my eating disorder a secret for four years (age 11-15 approx) until I tried to commit suicide my freshman year…I missed a few weeks of school and was treated for depression with no formal diagnosis of anorexia at that time
·        Looking back as a freshman I think it was obvious as I began withdrawing from things Ex. Cheerleading, track, friends, family…started missing school and sleep in class “I felt completely trapped in my body and isolated In my thinking
·        Anorexia would just get worse from then on until my early to mid twenties when I went back and forth with bulimia then night time eating disorder
·        In California I never mentioned it but my boyfriend (Pro boxing) eventually after a few moths I was there saw I had a problem/ after my return from California is when it got really bad the next few years
·        I wore baggy clothes a lot, not available at dinner time, never ate lunch at school (Not once!!)
·        I felt anxious, deceitful, sneaky, depressed at times, confused when fasted, lonely and isolated
·        The bizarre thing about anorexia and bulimia is when I was following a strict regime when in a full blown eating disorder (anorexia) I felt in control of my life UNTIL…Anorexia took over my mind and I couldn’t stop my negative patterns of behavior when I really desired to!
·        But, when I was bulimic I was filled with much more shame and out of control!!!!!!!!!!! 
 How long was it you told someone about your eating disorder or someone found out what you were going through?
·        My senior year in high school worked out at a local gym, the owners and good friend Lonnie of mine saw I was losing weight and obsessed with images of thin girls, food, weight and working out for many hours
·        I never said the words “I have an eating disorder” until I was in my twenties when I returned from California. I knew one of the main reasons I returned home was to get well. I told 2 male friends (both of which had body issues) Matt and Lonnie/While in California I met with a Nutritionist who calculated my daily consumption of 300-500 calories and asked if I had a problem I DENIED IT!
·        I had a girlfriend I traveled with in modeling that was bulimic we talked briefly but never in length. She often asked me different diet tragedies to lose weight…this friendship ended as it was not healthy for me.
·        I never said I was Anorexic at the time…never referred to myself that way. Only now that I’m well can I saw I was anorexic and had multiple eating disorders!
·        When I began serious discussions in treatment after my return from California it was evident at 90 then 80lbs that I was ANOREXIC…by this point I struggled for about 10 years!!
·        My parents had divorced and my mom was in denial/ my dad knew but didn’t really know what to do until I almost died
·        A few people in College made a statement they thought I had a problem but never confronted me (sorority girls) we just didn’t talk about it                         How were you feeling emotionally when you were hospitalized each time?
·        Fear of gaining weight
·        Weak/confused/anxious
·        Angry/exhausted/depressed/disgusted with myself
                         What would you like to tell society about eating disorders?
·        Eating disorders are real!
·        Anorexia is the leading cause of death amongst all psychiatric illnesses…20% of anorexics die if they go untreated! 2/10
·        The earlier you catch an eating disorder and treat it the more likely you can make a full recovery
·        Eating disorders are not about the food but the need for control in one’s life
·        There is nothing good that comes of an eating disorder!!!!
·        You lose touch with reality/waste precious time to something more meaningful with your life/lose friends/waste time to create memories/ lose your smile/ lose your self esteem
·        30-40% of girls 6-12 have been on a diet
·        86% report onset of eating disorder before age 20
·        The # of eating disorders has doubled in the last 10 years
·        The # of women suffering with bulimia tripled in the last 5 years
·        See page 14 from blog “23 things anorexia will strip you of”
What kind of misconceptions did people have about what you’ve been through?
·        I think people just thought I liked to work out and was caught up in how I looked
·        Many thought my struggles were primarily from the stress of modeling but don’t realize how far back my issues began
·        I would think some people thought I was either self centered or simply messed up 
Can you talk to me about recovery? Your emotions surrounding it?
·        For me recovery was a long process considering how long I struggled
·        There was many vital components to the process of recovery and one key component was finding the right team of Dr’s
·        Support from family and friends
·        Once I made the commitment to recovery I knew one day I would get better
·        I spent a lot of time educating myself on what I was experiencing
·        I learned to avoid triggers and people who fed into it
·        I acknowledged food was a gift and necessary to survive
·        Re-feeding was extremely painful! I do still have issues with digestion…esophagus, stomach, bowel…(Note: recent diagnosis of Systemic Scleroderma an autoimmune disease)
·        Emotions were overwhelming at times…I shed many tears. I felt a lot of fear. I was often Anxious and Angry for what I had done to myself
                        What messages would you like to see out in society about eating disorders and recovery?
·        Eating disorders are a serious and often complex manifestation of underlying issues
·        Every individuals journey is different then the next so… expect the process of recovery to vary

Recovery at minimum means:
-For women menstrual period return to normal
-Normal to near normal weight is maintained
-A balanced diet of a normal variety of foods and not just those which are low in fat, sugar or low calorie
-Appropriate relationships with family members
-Mutually satisfying relationships which are healthy and with normal people
-Appreciating the process of making choices and having consequences
-Individual No longer drives oneself with criticism and demands for any unrealistic performance
-Gains strong ability for problem solving

                        Do you expect someone to “GET IT” who hasn’t suffered to a degree?
·        NO! 
 If you could help them understand what would you say?
·        Anorexia is like having a friend you know isn’t good for you but can’t figure out how to part ways with.
·        Anorexia in the beginning stages is like having a shot of alcohol at first (just enough to feel you can handle life…) then before you know it you drank the whole bottle and there is no turning back because it’s in your blood. The only difference is you don’t simply wake up in the morning with a hangover! You become chained to the obsession and lose complete control over all aspects of your life!

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