5th October 2017
22 years ago, on the tail end of recovery from an Eating Disorder brought about by being in the ballet world mixed with my perfectionistic traits (and ballet is 'perfect' venue to bring these out! Well, was back in the day before some changes were starting to be made around weight and ballet and positive body image), I did an exercise for a counsellor, looking at mapping my dreams and experiences, future prospects in recovery etc., and where the dance fitted but more healthily, and any additions I wanted to add etc. I drew a diagram (which I still have) of a two pronged road map. It included dance, but it also included working as a therapist and also specialising in eating disorders, to give something back, and to not let go of the dancer in me, but with realisation that the counselling had helped me recover, and I believed I had what it took to help others struggling with an ED this way, but also in other areas of struggle or wish for development. I also mapped where the two paths of dance and theatre and counselling/psychology/therapy cross - as in dance/movement therapy, and I also mapped research and writing, both regarding eating disorders, but also other areas. Around this date exactly 22 years ago, and at age 22 I also started my very first counselling training, and a few months later my dance therapy training. I have worked consistently through these 22 years, both on a personal and professional level to travel down these roads, and intersections, and adding in extra bits like personality type profiling, applied social research, and other areas. And I know there is more yet to come and develop and more of me to develop. Today, I received an email from my dear friend, manager and co-founder/secretary of Seed Eating Disorders Services where I work, telling me she had a call from a mother of a young woman saying our therapy group ‘The Road Less Travelled' and my one on one counselling was the turning point for her daughter, who is now recovered. Able to live her life. Able to enter adulthood free of the ED. Able to develop into all that she truly is, and to love herself and food not be the enemy. There have been many recovered and in current recovery with us, but even if only this one, those 22 years of study, training, self-discovery, heart wrenching lessons and learning curves - and thousands and thousands of pounds of education - are worth it. Really worth it. I am truly living what I set out those 22 years ago in relation to my vocation and personal and professional development. Every traumatic eating disorder day those three years when I struggled were for 'such a time as this'.
There IS life on the other side of an eating disorder. Recovery is hard work, but I have seen people put in this hard work. I have seen them in agony pushing through. And I have seen them come through. Marg Oaten MBE is a legend, and what started as a little time of meetings in a living room of worried parents, has turned into an amazing non-profit charity, that is touching lives worldwide. Marg deserves that MBE. I am proud to be her colleague and friend.