Why was the fellowship started? A group of us saw the need for a fellowship focused only on the Twelve Steps as a means of recovery from our obsession with weight, size and eating.
Why a Twelve Step programme? A Twelve Step programme showed us a different approach to our problem. Between us we had tried every remedy to control our behaviour and failed. Nothing worked. The Fellowship helped us to see our behaviour was a dis-ease not a lack of will power.
So how does the Fellowship help you? In the Fellowship we find an understanding of our illness and a set of tools for daily living which is the Twelve Steps. These Steps and the unconditional acceptance we receive are our road to recovery. The Twelve Steps12 give us a road map for daily living that frees us from our painful symptoms. At our meetings we meet people like ourselves who are seeking help and understanding.
What do you say to someone who thinks OEA might be for them? Recovery is possible for everyone, get in touch, come to one of our meetings and give it a try. We pass a basket to cover our costs. You can be assured of confidentiality and hope for the future.
What do you mean by obsession with weight size or eating? People have different symptoms; secret eating, bingeing, throwing-up, constant nibbling, comfort eating, starving, constantly trying to control food, obsessive weighing, excessive exercise, fixation with size. Whatever our physical symptoms are, weight, size, food or eating was always on our minds.
What about people who say “Pull up your socks” or “You just need a healthy diet”? We are often competent, efficient, successful people in many areas of our lives but in this area, despite our very best efforts, we are absolutely unable to control our behaviour with food. When well meaning people told us to lose weight, or how their friend had lost weight, it was very difficult to explain the difference to them. There are people who can diet successfully, just as there are people who can drink alcohol and get drunk, yet are not alcoholics. We are like alcoholics – there is something different about us. We too suffer from an obsession of the mind – however our symptom is with weight, size or eating.
How did these obsessions affect your life?Here are some members' responses:
“There was no area of my life not affected.”
“I thought about food and weight all the time”
“I felt ashamed and frightened because I could not stop bingeing and throwing-up”
“I was unable to do anything without thinking that it would be better if I was the ‘right’ size.”
“When I was trying to diet I thought about food constantly, when I was not dieting I felt guilty because I ought to be on a diet.”
“I lost all confidence and avoided social occasions because I didn’t feel ‘right’”
“I was full of fear for my health, I was obsessed with the possibility of an early death – yet could not control my eating.”
“I hated how I looked and became a very angry person.”
“ I stopped looking for romantic relationships because of my size”
“I had no self-esteem, felt worthless, and never felt ‘part of.’”
“ I had this secret and there was nobody else in the world who ate like I did or felt like I did about myself.”
“Because I thought it was lack of willpower, I was constantly angry with myself for my “bad behaviour” and felt a total glutton!”
“Put off buying clothes until I was the right size or I bought too small to slim into them.”
“I was feeling bad because of my lack of control”
“My relationships suffered, I became very self centred.”
“I was constantly focused on how others saw me and was afraid of being judged or criticised because of my size.”
“Despite medical advice to change my eating pattern I found I was unable to do so. In fact this pressure made my behaviour around food worse.”
What about weight loss? Some have lost weight, some have gained weight and some have stayed the same. Almost all of us experience positive changes in our behaviour around food.