Shelly Guillory from the HBO documentary THIN is ready to have her say.
Since the death of her friend Polly Williams, she has decided to come out fighting. Fighting against eating disorders, and the media that fuels them. Here is an update from Shelly sent to me via email;
So I haven’t been around much on the internet and there is a simple reason for this. I am getting better. It is easy to say but extremely hard to do. As a therapist once told me ,(and I laughed at this and totally used this phrase in a mocking tone on more than one occasion)…”it’s simple, but I am not saying it’s easy.”
Little did I know she would be right.
I cannot say why I decided to get better, but a few months ago something just “clicked”. In AA they say a person has a spiritual awakening, but because I don’t like that term and I was never like Moses and saw a burning bush, I am just going to go with my Clicking Theory. I had hit an all time low. I was depressed, anxious, malnourished, and I was addicted to benzodiazipines. I realized I had to do something or I would die. Honestly, I really thought death was the only way I was going to get over this, I almost welcomed it. But deep down inside I knew I didn’t want to die, but I deeply believed I couldn’t get better. I kept telling myself over and over again, “you have tried and you have failed everytime.” But had I really tried? Had I really surrendered and given recovery every ounce of energy I had? The answer again was simple…No, I had not.
Shelly one year after treatment at Renfrew, image source: Lauren Greenfield
So in September 2008, I surrendered and it was quite possibly the scariest thing I had ever done. I realized I had to put aside my preoccupation with weight, food, body image, thinness and everything else that comes along with an eating disorder, once and for all. I was terrified because I knew without all those distractions I would be force to feel. Feelings I had not allowed myself to feel in so long were powerful. I felt uncomfortable because I had not felt anything for so long. The amount of anxiety I felt scared me and I several times I thought about quitting, turning back to starving and purging. But I knew I couldn’t. This was my time and I knew something greater than myself would get me through it. My confidence was shaky and many times I didn’t believe I could do it, but I just kept telling myself over and over again that I could no matter what I really believed. The power of positive self-talk has sustained me in my recovery.
I ate and I gained weight and I sobered up (6 months clean). The concept was simple, but the process wasn’t easy. I cannot say this enough, I was scared out of my mind…sometimes paralyzed by fear. Even today I still have a lot of fear and anxiety. Recovery is a slow process and because I am impatient it has made the process slightly harder. But I realized I would rather feel uncomfortable for a little while than to not feel at all.
A change is happening in me and I welcome it this time instead of pushing it away. This is the first time I have allowed it to hapen. I am slowly finding out who I am, what I like, what I don’t like, who I want to be and so on…although scary, it feel awesome and It feels real.
So I write to tell you it is possible. I was one who wasn’t supposed to make it. I am going to prove those who doubted me wrong. And it is going to feel good. And I win in the situation. Recovery to me means living the life I want, to not be weighed down by unnecessary worries and irrational thoughts. It means not putting unrealistic expectations on myself and not feeling like a failure when I don’t meet them. It means improved relationships with the people I love and care about. It means I can reach out, tell my story and give people hope. It means I can truly be the person that I am.
I don’t want to overwhelm you guys with my thoughts and my dreams and hopes. But I will continue to write because hopefully it not only give you hope, but it will also remind me of what I am working for and what I want to attain.
The freedom I feel from not actively engaging in Ed behaviors has provided me with opportunities that I never even noticed before. I will speak out and I will advocate because I know my story needs to be told.
My hope for you today is to at least have one minute, one hour, or even a few hours where you can step back, take a look a look at who you really are and experience peace and serenity. It may materialize into something greater and more powerful than you thought possible.
Until next time…
In memory of Polly.