Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Welcome, Warriors! ❤

Hi there! My name is Hanne Arts and a I'm a Psychology graduate, author, YouTuber, and recovery warrior. I started writing when I was about seven, and I began incorporating some of my own mental health struggles into my works from the age of thirteen. I published my debut novel, JUST PERFECT, in December 2014, followed by its sequel, RED RIBBONS, in October 2017.

But that's quite a condensed version of my life, don't you think?

As a child, my life was perfect.  

That is, until it wasn’t anymore.  

In January 2010, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia. In February 2010, I was hospitalized. Since then, I have been in and out of hospitals, consistently struggling to build my life up whilst sliding back down.

If someone would have told me, even just five years ago, that things would get better, I don’t think I could have suppressed my laughter. It would have been sinister laughter. Why-on-earth-would-you-say-that laughter, like that of an evil character in a children’s film. I did not believe that I would ever make it out; I felt helpless and trapped in the embrace of an illness that once, just briefly, had promised me that everything would be fine. Everything would be okay if only I tossed out that snack, if only I skipped that meal.  

For almost six years of my life, my mind was consumed. I was obsessed. I fell into the eating disorder’s arms, unable to break free. Every morning and every night, I would sneak upstairs to weigh myself. Every mealtime, I would consider how to get away with eating less and less. Every night, I cried myself to sleep. I felt worthless. I wished for a way out.  

I wished to sleep. Forever. When the morning sun awoke me from a restless night, I was disappointed. A new day – the same struggles.

Meanwhile, I saw my parents break down. Whilst I turned into a shadow of my former self, they crumbled. They forced me to eat, threatened me with hospitalization, and showered me with more love than I knew anyone could hold within one’s heart. And I hated them for it.  

After all, it was the one thing keeping me there. It was the only thing keeping me tied to the life I so desperately wanted to step out of.  

They sobbed and I sobbed; they sent me to treatment and I went. Gradually, the weight crept up. Gradually, the bad moods lifted, if even just a little. What was there, I wondered, further down this path? Would the veil that obscured my life finally lift? Was there a light at the end of the tunnel?  

There was no way to know. Not unless I followed the path. And I decided it was worth the risk.   

Let me tell you now, it is worth the risk. It is a winding road, but it is paved; there are poisonous berries and thorn bushes, but no bad wolves or evil gnomes. It sure as hell is a safer route than the alternative, and I really think you should consider it. You won’t know if you don’t try.   

Had I not taken the risk, I would have never known. I would have never experienced the wonders that make up life. I would have never experienced shameless pleasure, unapologetic joy, and that incredible emotion that comes so naturally to children – carefree nonchalance.   

Today, I live abroad, I attend university, and I have a boyfriend. Food is no longer at the forefront of my priorities list. I am ED- thought and behaviour free. I have a successful YouTube channel and two much-praised published books. I work, I travel, I enjoy my life.  

And I know that I will wake up tomorrow morning, excited when the sun awakes me from a restful sleep.

Recovering WITHOUT weight gain and sugar cravings?

Can you recover from an eating disorder without gaining weight? Without becoming obsessed with sugar? Without "bingeing"?

There's not easy answer. Maybe?

Having said that, in order to recover, it's important to
  • eat freely, without fear of weight gain
  • stop focusing on the calories and weight gain
  • stop obsessing over the scales and weight gain
  • allow your body to do it's thing, even if this means weight gain  

You see, the weight gain itself is not what defines recovery. However, the ability to stop obsessing over it is what does. In the process of overcoming this obsession, it is possible and likely that you will gain weight (and crave sugar and go against everything that feels 'right' to the eating disorder), and you may need to embrace this in order to be physically and mentally healthy. But what matters is not the numbers on the scale (or on yet another packet of chocolates), what matters is the mindset change.

So 2024 is the year to start focusing on your goals, your dreams, your ambitions. Stop focusing on the weight. 

And, no, your body may not always feel like it is your friend. It didn't to me. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't treat it as your friend. Fake it 'till you make it. Because the body is hardly ever at fault...

Your worth does not depend on your appearance.

Tearing yourself down is not what’s going to help build yourself up.

You are unique and valuable as you are.

Your body deserves respect, regardless of its shape or size.

It would be a lie to say that this was always easy, but there are definitely some things I have done over the years that have helped me tremendously, such as...  
  • striding straight into the fear (to prove, through experience, that the outcome really isn't that bad)
  • wearing clothes that fit, are comfortable, and make me feel genuinely ME (and that take the focus off of my appearance)
  • daily gratitude journalling, and shifting my attention to the positives in life and in my day-to-day  
  • giving myself breaks and allowing myself treats (including sufficient rest and nourishment), in essence telling my body it deserved these things even on days where I didn't feel like it did  

Nowadays, even when I do feel a bit bleh in my body (it happens -- I'm human!) it also simply holds a lot less power over me than it did back then, and it most definitely no longer temps me to return to the eating disorder. The process of gaining weight (and gaining mental clarity alongside this), the process of shaking off the ed... it all means that a bad day no longer gets blown out of proportion. I notice the thoughts and then move on to other, better things. It no longer consumes 99% of my brain space.

So here's what I want you to take away as we head into a new year: change takes time. It feels uncomfortable. But you have to change your behaviours to change the outcome. You have to push through (and you can!)

Now go do it xx

PS. For a daily dose of motivation, find me on Instagram here. Or, for that big nudge in the right direction, sign up to a free 15 minute call with me here and let's see if coaching could be the key to your 2024 success!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Food Decision Fatigue in ED Recovery

An eating disorder is the ultimate way to avoid decisions (and decision fatigue). Always choose the lowest calorie option; always say no; always avoid sugar; and so on and so forth. It’s a list of commands, with no room for second-guessing. 

With an eating disorder, you don't have to decide what to eat and when, because you eat the same thing, every day, at the same times. You don't have to decide where you want to go out for lunch because you DON’T go out for lunch. (And, if you do, you go for the same salad every time. No decision needed.) 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Why you DON’T NEED a therapist in eating disorder recovery

Are you tired of feeling alone in your struggles with an eating disorder? Do you find yourself constantly battling negative thoughts and behaviors around food and your body? Is something you believed you controlled now controlling your life?

If you are constantly dieting, restricting, compensating, and tightly controlling your food intake; if you are consumed by calories and numbers and food labels; if you are feeling stuck, you have come to the right place. You are not alone. And the good news is that you don't have to go through this journey by yourself!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

'Getting Your Life Together' for 2023

Firstly, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I hope you are all doing well and have started 2023 off with a bang! Secondly, relax. I hope you all know that there's really no need to throw a fit thinking up and executing all of these (over-hyped) new year's resolutions for your 'new year, new me.' This year, I propose a different approach.

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Lies we Tell Ourselves

I hate to break it to ya, but you’re not working ‘hard enough’ if your results aren’t as obvious as the steroid-pumped dude next-door (sarcastic eye-roll)

Sunday, September 18, 2022

How my Body Image Changed as I Gained Weight in ED Recovery

My body image changed during my eating disorder recovery, as I gained weight and I approached a healthy BMI. It changed even as I then maintained this new healthy weight. So did the body dysmorphia that characterised my eating disorder simply disappear with time? Did I magically start loving myself during this process of rediscovery? Well, not quite... 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Counting Calories in Eating Disorder Recovery

Let’s face it: the eating disorder likes control. Counting calories creates a *perfect* sense of control, and so many individuals with an eating disorder and in recovery from an eating disorder therefore turn to this for a sense of safety, at a time when everything else may feel unsafe and unsure.