Tag Archives: Body Image

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

42ed1fd300000578-4757264-image-a-54_1501764528746I recently watched an episode of the Channel 5 (UK) programme In Therapy. Each episode of the programme follows a different celebrity through counselling sessions, in the hopes of resolving certain issues.

I was particularly interested to see this recent episode as it featured Nikki Grahame of Big Brother fame, who developed anorexia at a very young age and spent most of her young years in treatment centres. Nikki endured herself to many, myself included, with her witty personality and intelligence, but sadly also her temper tantrums which displayed genuine distress.

I think the documentary can be accessed by UK viewers via Channel 5’s catch-up service below (sorry everyone else!):

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

The Therapy Sessions.

The counselling sessions with therapist Mandy Saligari began with Nikki having a meltdown (panic attack?) about having to open up about the past.

It was sad to see this, and part of me wonders whether the media are exploiting her in the name of entertainment. But that’s another issue in itself.

For the most part I feel her open-ness about her condition is beneficial in helping people to understand their own issues and to reframe themselves and their identity in a positive light.

A Distorted Perception

It was clear during the therapy sessions that Nikki is very hard on herself, even to the point of hating herself in some moments: as suggested by the disgust she has felt looking at her body in the mirror- which she now avoids.

I think many of us who have an extreme sensitivity and have been through childhood experiences that invalidate our sense of self-worth, may have felt similarly that they do not like themselves, perhaps to the point of hatred. I know I have and it is painful to remember those dark times.

It is also clear we are looking at an intelligent, witty young lady, who also has insight into her condition and its effects on others. It is so easy to see the good in her. Her past anorexia has distorted her view of herself physically too- self disgust, yet she presents as anything but disgusting!

So, if I am feeling bad about myself, I can be assured that my opinion is probably completely distorted towards the negative, and perhaps other people see something good and worthy in me. I start then to think of good qualities they may see and then the good thoughts multiply and add to a growing positive relationship with myself.

9496tn1l70tebfRecovery from many mental health conditions seems to be about making friends with yourself, loving and taking care of yourself. This is what we haven’t developed throughout childhood- we’ve had mirrored back to us only the negative (the majority of the time anyway) which has coloured our perception of ourselves as “bad” and “shameful”.

Consciously Denying Feelings

One particularly disturbing moment of the shows Nikki respond to perceived criticism by Mandy, by making the decision to not talk. She stares at the ceiling and seems to numb herself to any feeling she might have about this. It’s as if she decides that she doesn’t want to deal with this situation or person anymore, like she can’t cope with it, and the only way she feels she can deal with it is by numbing herself of all feeling and denying it.

This was very familiar to me. I developed a similar pattern of behaviour (though less overt) when I felt I couldn’t cope with certain situations throughout childhood. It is a very childlike way of coping. But we have been taught no other way of dealing with our own distress, so have developed our own coping mechanism at 3,5,9,10,11 years old, whenever, and that part of us is stuck there with this behaviour. We have learnt no other way of dealing with overwhelming emotions.

At one point, Mandy makes the point that Nikki’s emotions are no stronger than anybody else’s, she just hasn’t learnt to manage them. I actually disagree with this. I think some of us do feel emotions much more strongly than others- our sensitivity makes it so. To imply we all feel the same intensity of emotion is quite simplistic I think, and invalidates Nikki’s experiences of her own feelings.

Thankfully Nikki begins talking to Mandy again and they work through what happened in a healthy way. She could have remained in the cocoon she created for herself and refused to finish the counselling. This is a majorly positive step, anybody who achieves a breakthrough like this in counselling or life in general is moving forward positively, to greater maturity. Congratulate yourself! Achievements in life don’t have to be about academic or vocational gain. We must learn to see all the positive steps we take in life, in order for us to see who we truly are- wonderful beings!

A Positive Future

Nikki has moved on from feeling so controlled by anorexia, though she still admits to obsessive cleaning. But it is evident she has more self acceptance than she had in the past and is developing a more positive relationship with herself. This is such a hopeful thing to see- we are all capable of growth and developing self-love. We will move towards the positive and recovery, if that is what we want.

Related Posts

Binge-Eating: Empty Inside

Counselling: My Wellbeing As Priority

I Am Angry and It’s Okay.

Body Image and Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’.

You Are Amazing!

 

Body Image & Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’

I have had pretty poor body image from the age of about 10. I was a little overweight as a child, butgirls-detail nothing major- it was enough to get teased though.

I know I’m not alone here!

If, like me, you are easily disillusioned by seeing images of beautiful, skinny, perfectly moulded women’s bodies all over the media, try watching HBO’s ‘Girls’ on Sky.

Written by and starring the fabulous Lena Dunham it tells the fortunes of four girls as they contend with the challenges of living and working in New York, and of their respective relationships.

There is a lot of nudity in this show. But for someone like me it is so refreshing to see a girl with a ‘normal’ body who is not afraid to flaunt it in front of the cameras. Lena Dunham is one ballsy girl and I love her for it. Anyone who can help me accept my body just a teeny bit is fabulous in my book!!girls-hbo-fashion

Lena Dunham’s character ‘Hannah’ frequently flaunts the most unflattering fashions and her lovely, ‘normal’, naked body with seemingly not a care in the world. How amazing!! It is actually possible to have an average body and be comfortable and relaxed in it! What a great role model she is to me.

After watching ‘Girls’, I practically sigh with relief- “thank goodness I’m normal after all”!

Thank you Lena Dunham- you are my heroine!!

On a side note- in the last episode (aired on Monday 4th March) Hannah had to deal with the return of her OCD symptoms. Always great to see mental health issues handled well in TV dramas.

Related Posts

A Little Bit on Eating Disorders

Body Image & Anxiety

From Overare For Others’ Opinions To Self-Discovery

Bipolar Disorder: Body Image & Anxiety

Song of the Day: No Light, No Light by Florence & the Machine

(Photo Credit: ny156uk available under a Creative Commons Licence).

Really struggling with the binge eating at the moment. I feel so ashamed of my behaviour. I’m greedy and out of control. I hate the way I feel after I’ve binged- bloated and sick and guilty and full of shame. So why the hell do I do it?!!! Aaarghhhh!!

I hate that I can’t stop. I have no ability to delay gratification and my impulse control is virtually non-existent. I’m so worried for my health now. I was hoping going back to the gym would automatically help me to focus on health and nutrition, but it doesn’t seem to be working that way!! Guess it’s early days.

I don’t remember a time now when I wasn’t extremely preoccupied by how I looked. At school losing weight was more about avoiding any teasing. I guess a lot of it is STILL worrying about what other people think of me. Are they judging me as much as I judge myself? It’s quite narcissistic really to think that other people are focusing on how you look. I’m convinced that when I walk out of the house I stick out like a sore thumb, I feel so self-conscious and am only comfortable walking around Spixworth really early on in the morning when no one else is about. It’s not that I don’t go out, I do, but I just love knowing that nobody is there to judge me- it’s freeing. I am extremely harsh on myself. I don’t mean to be. Controlling the thoughts your mind comes up with is bloody hard: you’re a fat heifer, why would anybody ever find you attractive? You look like a kid, I hate the way you look- just a small sample of the pleasant things I say to myself. Don’t realize that I’m doing it half the time, which makes it harder to stop. But because I do this to myself, I assume other people are also thinking the same things about me.

As a slim teenager I actually thought I would rather be dead than fat! I was very self-controlled, maybe too controlled, and I guess I was guilty of judging larger people harshly. Now I am fat I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want to die, just not to live life like this: waking up everyday hoping I’ve lost a few stone (!), feeling my stomach, how big is it today? Worrying about what I’m going to eat. Thinking about how I look every second of every day. It’s weird because even though I take very little care of my appearance in general these days, I’m still worrying about it, maybe more than I ever did! I honestly think my anxiety has never really improved, I seem to have a chronic level that always exists in the background. Suppose that’s Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I understand is a common co-existing condition with Bipolar Disorder.

Why is it so important to me for other people to approve of everything about me? And it really is you know! It’s almost the main point of my life, to make everyone like every little thing about me. Guess it all stems back to the whole keeping your parents happy thing. They were very depressed when I was growing up and I felt it was my job to keep them as happy as possible. If I came on the end of their wrath I felt so worthless. You don’t exist as a child without your parents- you’d be abandoned if they disapproved of you so badly, and my Mum & Dad’s reactions could be pretty devastating. I need to be gentler on myself. It is not my fault that I have learned these thought and behaviour patterns. But I am the only one who can change things. That’s a huge responsibility- taking care of myself. I want someone else to do it for me! It’s so scary to take responsibility, well, to me anyway. But I’ve got to remember I’m worth it (cue L’Oreal hair tossing).