Guest Post with Ellie Katz

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to be here today with a guest post from Ellie Katz. Please help me by giving her a warm welcome.

I wrote my memoir, My Last Summer as a Fat Girl, during a year-long investigation into my relationship with food.

The idea for writing the book came to me one week when two new patients were admitted to the rehab facility where I work as a psychologist: one a painfully thin anorexic woman, the other a morbidly obese teenage boy.

I thought to myself: “I am going to have to treat these two.” I was going to have to hoist their spirits, to help them out of messes that were visibly manifested in their bodies.

Meanwhile, I knew I had my own issues with eating; nothing extreme, thank God, but definitely persistent. I’d been aware since childhood that food was my go-to ally when I felt bored, confused, in pain, or just plain cranky. Somehow the act of chewing and swallowing, the taste and feel of something sweet, salty, crunchy, or greasy, always managed to provide a respite, however temporary, from unwelcome states and emotions. As America got fatter, so did I. Never was I obese, nor was I ever pencil-thin. I vacillated, like many people do. 

While it’s clear that a food disorder is an addiction, I was always happy that food was my drug and not anything more extreme, illegal and scary.

It was humbling to dignify my position within the close-knit circle of addicts. Furthermore, I was curious. What would I find if I faced myself like I asked my patients to do, asking: What makes you tick, Ellie, and what ticks you off? I’ve often heard it said that it’s not what you’re eating, but what’s eating you, that provides the fuel for such nonstop roundtrips to the kitchen.

It was hardly an easy task to undertake. It would be a rigorous archaeological dig into my soul and an attempt to instill some serious changes in the way I felt and ate.

Nevertheless, I sincerely desired to complete treatment successfully and be left in the end, like my patients, with an arsenal of tools that would protect me from falling back into ridiculous, self-destructive behaviors.

The rehab provides a wide range of therapeutic activities, all of which render opportunities for heightened awareness of one’s self and one’s addiction. Whether you participate in an anger group, guided imagery, or horseback riding, the goal is to see that life is possible and in fact infinitely better without the dubious benefit of using your drug of choice.

I make it my business at the rehab to help our patients come up with a vast array of healthy activities and interests that will keep them comfortable, cheerful and reliably relaxed. If one can succeed in these realms, one need not resort to the old, familiar patterns of use and abuse.

I chose to chronicle this process for myself, and in fact this entire year of my life. There is an appreciable difference between conversing and writing a memoir. Dialogue can, of course, have enormous value; getting something off your chest, having another person be a witness, is a significant act.

Writing a memoir, however, has its own remarkable therapeutic value. What you will say to another person is often overseen by the impression you want to make, but in journaling there is no element of the other. Absent this brand of shame and fear, you can say things on the page you would never, ever say out loud. You discover new insights, which often simply burst forth from your unconscious mind.

I used this method to act as my own psychologist. I also attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings (I was already a longstanding member) and talked regularly with my sponsor.

I learned over that year how to stay hopeful in spite of brief relapses and disappointments. The overall experience was successful and human. Every little bit of progress I made counted and helped me formulate a message to all the people I work with.

After all, if I could do it, so could they.
Dr. Ellie Katz is a leading practitioner of holistic psychotherapy. For the last forty years, her eclectic interventions have featured innovative approaches to using meditation, guided thinking and the Bach Flower Remedies. Dr. Katz has lectured at Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center, the University of Istanbul, First Beijing Medical Center, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has been a senior staff member at the Retorno rehab facility since 2003.
The author spends as much time as possible with her dozen-plus grandchildren, who only know her under the alter ego, “Gwammy.” She continues to write and produce creative work, and even has a novel or two up her sleeve among her upcoming projects. You can check out her website for more details and will find all her latest food for thought, clinical tales, and reflections on her experiences on her blog.
My Last Summer as a Fat Girl is Dr. Ellie’s frank and honest portrayal of herself confronting a lifetime battle with food – what it did for her and what it did to her.
Love and Kisses from my Padded Cell is a lively, engaging work explaining how ten men and women wound up in the mire of addiction, addressing the common threads among many different kinds of compulsive behavior. 

Happy Reading!

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