Reflective Reflections


SKU e-book Category

175 in stock


By Katy Sara Culling

ISBN: 978-1-84991-160-3
Published: 2010
Pages: 95
Key Themes: eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder



Reflective Reflections is the quintessential up-to-date book on ALL eating disorders, written from the perspective of a recovered sufferer, therefore especially about anorexia and bulimia, but not forgetting about other eating disorders out there. Written from personal experience and extensive research, and for the first time tackling the dangers of the Internet.

This book considers the factors that might predispose someone to an eating disorder, what are the many and main causes of different eating disorders, and the factors that trap people within these horrific illnesses that trick your mind. Eating disorders bring disarray to both the life of the sufferer and to those people around who love them. Eating disorders are nasty, they fight dirty, but they can be beaten, and I, the author am proof of that after 15 years of anorexia and bulimia myself.

But never forget, eating disorders kill. They kill young people. Indiscriminately. Killing without warning, and quickly. I have lost a few friends to eating disorders, I close my eyes and my heart misses a beat because they were so young, so deserving of life, as deserving of life as me and yet here I am and they are gone. I see friends still living within its grasp year after year and I feel sad for them – and an ill part of me feels jealous. I see others who have partly recovered, and some who are back to “normal.”

This book will answer all your questions on eating disorders in a comprehensive but friendly manner, and I hope it helps you be you a sufferer, carer, or medical professional.

About the Author

Katy Sara Culling was born in Liverpool, North England, in January 1975, sharing her birth date rather aptly with Virginia Woolf. Daughter of Sue and Paul Culling, her family moved back to its roots in Derbyshire, where she grew up along with her younger sister Beth, in the village of Castle Donington, on the Derbyshire-Leicestershire border. However, even as young as 5 she exhibited symptoms of bipolar disorder. She attended a private school for girls, Loughborough High School, where she was a high achieving student. Unfortunately, due to bullying and also to numb her mania and depression, she developed anorexia nervosa and began to self-harm.

Katy Sara then went to The University of Nottingham, where she studied Biochemistry and Nutrition. She did her (1st class) thesis on alcohol and metabolism, interested in the psychology of Alcoholism. All this was done despite considerable illness including over 60 suicide attempts and purging-type anorexia – and yet more bullying. Her good work at Nottingham lead to an offer of a place at The University of Oxford, where she studied for a PhD (DPhil) in Clinical Medicine. In her final year she became so ill with anorexia that she was in hospital (first as a day patient, then an inpatient, and eventually a sectioned inpatient). During those two years she attempted suicide over 300 times, dying twice, only to be revived. She finally, at the age of 28 got a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the correct medication, and had been mostly fine ever since. Her eating disorder spontaneously recovered. She later wrote up her PhD thesis and published her results.

Now Katy Sara is mostly well and has become a writer, wanting to prevent others from suffering as she did. She writes mainly about bipolar disorder and anorexia but also other psychiatry/mental health topics, and her first anorexia/bipolar memoir Dark Clouds Gather (autobiographical) was published by Chipmunkapublishing. Her second book, Too Good For This World, a collection of stories from people with bipolar disorder and major depression is also available, including people with eating disorders. Katy Sara also spends her time working in medical research, and helping fellow survivors of anorexia, bulimia and bipolar disorder through charitable organisations whilst trying to maintain her own good mental health. She is an advocate for all survivors of these illnesses and believes that an “expert patient” system could be highly beneficial. She has not ruled out the possibility of doing another PhD, this time in Psychiatry. Every day is a battle with illness that she wins, and she hopes that 443 suicide attempts will never reach 444 and that her battle with food remains one that she feels she has won.

Book Extract

In our Western world of plenty: the constraining, tangible corsets of days-gone-by have been replaced by a new, metaphorical corset of the mind. Men and women, all of whom suffer from extreme low self-esteem and lack of validation, find themselves living out each day of their life, overwhelmed with issues of food, weight, size, self-hatred, illness, anxiety, anger, guilt, control and fear. Eating disorders are a symptom of deep emotional distress, which entrap sufferers and create new problems of their own. Societally, dieting is rife. Value judgements based on a person’s size are copious, and seemingly up for discussion without any understanding of any possible underlying issues. Few illnesses inspire such misunderstanding, despair and frustration, (for all involved), as do eating disorders. Few illnesses are awarded such warped attention in the media; or are claimed to be “lifestyle choices” by some of those afflicted.

Statistics on eating disorders do not inspire confidence because of the very secret nature of these illnesses (and varying diagnostic criteria used). The UK based “beat,” formerly the Eating Disorders Association, believes that the number of people actually receiving treatment for anorexia or bulimia in the UK is near to 90,000 (much higher than the official figure). Many, many more people receive no help and no diagnosis, in particular those with bulimia (it is believed, because the sufferer feels particularly ashamed of their actions whereas an anorectic is proud of her or his weight loss). The organisation “beat” estimates that 1.1 million people in the UK are afflicted by anorexia or bulimia.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in America, 5-10 million US citizens have eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder (B.E.D.) and some more rare disorders. Some people dip into these illnesses for varying periods (months or years) and then recover, some swap between different eating disorders, other illnesses, some remain ill for many years, some recover, and some die.

In the Western world, using strict diagnostic criteria, the prevalence (actual number of current sufferers) of eating disorders runs at 0.28% for anorexia and 1% for bulimia. Between 5% and 15% of sufferers are male. These figures may well represent an open minority of those suffering, and there are statistics that claim much higher rates. It is also probable that the true figures of those with eating disorders could be higher, due to the denial that anything is wrong, fear of humiliation, or other reasons for inhibition about coming forward with their illness, particularly those ashamed of making themselves vomit or use laxatives, and men who are ashamed to have a “woman’s illness.”

On top of these figures are people with disordered eating who do not fit the strict criteria, but who still suffer deeply: including those with eating disorder not otherwise specified (E.D.N.O.S.) and binge eating disorder (B.E.D.) What is more, although (large, long-term) prospective cohort studies for eating disorders are unfeasible, retrospective analysis shows that the incidence (the number of new cases) of these “modern” illnesses is continuously increasing all around the world.

As stated, eating disorders have the equally highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses (equal with bipolar disorder, standing at up to 20% of sufferers). It is essentially noteworthy that depression (sometimes manic depression/bipolar disorder) seems to occur ubiquitously in people with eating disorders – thus the risk of death due to depression (suicide) is compounded by the physical risk of death due to the eating disorder. The effects of starving, purging, other psychiatric disorders and therefore suicide: can be lethal. Five to ten percent of anorectics die within ten years of onset, 18-20% die within twenty years of onset, but it is vital to note that with treatment this is reduced to 2-3%. (ANAD ). Over a third of victims end up living with illness long-term despite treatment, a third recover somewhat but still struggle, and a third make a full recovery. These percentages can be waved around without thinking about the huge number of real live, fantastic human beings, together with their families and friends, who all suffer, and some die. I lost a friend, Claire, a keen runner. She was 31 when she dropped down dead, no warnings.

In your lifetime, eating disorder charities estimate that at least 50,000 people will die as a direct result of anorexia or bulimia. By this I mean deaths due to acute illness, including but not exclusively: literal starvation, organ failure (e.g. renal failure), gastrointestinal crisis (e.g. gastric dilatation leading to a ruptured stomach), heart attacks (arrhythmias are common, particularly conduction defects and ventricular arrhythmias), electrolyte imbalance (usually when purging is present causing low potassium), dehydration, and not uncommonly suicide.


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