When I found myself at Imani's front door, bag in hand, I was broken and truly desperate for help.
I've always had reservations with the business of recovery in Cape Town. It's hard to trust that anyone has your best interests at heart what with the high turnaround of clients in the numerous treatment facilities in and around the city. When I found myself at Imani's front door, bag in hand, I was broken and truly desperate for help. I was met with love, compassion and understanding. Reassured that life was going to get better if I was prepared to put in a little effort. I found structure here, a sense of belonging and access to a wealth of information and experience. Imani fast became my home, the first I'd had in years, and my time there was nothing if not life changing.
Imani literally gave me my life back and I am forever grateful.
Being at Imani gave me a safe space to begin fully dealing with the underlying issues of my addiction and eating disorder. Imani helped me implement structure, and develop a balanced daily routine, which I carry through to my everyday life. I began to form healthy relationships for the first time and learned about the importance of trusting myself and the boundaries I set. The counselling team assisted me with my family interactions and taught me valuable coping mechanisms to deal with tough situations. Imani literally gave me my life back and I am forever grateful.
Tamara - Eating disorder
In other addiction centres certain rituals and ED habits around my food had gone undetected but these were keeping me enslaved.
I came to somewhere focused on ED treatment because having been in primary for addiction, I found that my ED could not be treated or managed in the same way.
I needed care and support of people who knew about ED so that I could not slip back into old behaviours. I wanted to be exposed to other people with ED who wanted recovery and with whom I could relate to, people who battled with the same things I did on a daily basis and understood the very specific insanities of my thoughts and habits around food.
I needed groups and therapy specifically orchestrated to bring down the walls that my ED had built up around me and to help me start to see myself in a different way. In other addiction centres certain rituals and ED habits around my food had gone undetected but these were keeping me enslaved.
I chose to go to an ED specific centre like Imani so that I could be given the specific tools needed to break these habits, and in doing so break free from my ED.
At Imani I was introduced to a loving and sustainable way of eating
I was referred to Imani by my counsellor from an addiction treatment centre where I had landed up in desperation after my fourth alcohol and drug relapse. I had spent 4 years in the rooms of AA, NA and OA and would have periods of clean time, but I could never find lasting abstinence. My biggest struggle was with my eating disorder, which completely ruled my life and had me at the point where I felt recovery from it was impossible for me.
At Imani I was introduced to a loving and sustainable way of eating, which I found hard to adapt to at first, but with all the help from the staff and other patients, I was able to get through my initial fears and obstacles in a safe and nurturing environment. The programme helped me to start facing myself and the real issues underlying my eating disorder behaviours and attitudes. I completely trusted the highly competent staff who challenged me when I was stuck in self destructive patterns and nurtured and built me up when I needed it.
I have been for some time now on my eating disorder and coping with huge changes in my life, thanks to the solid foundation of recovery and ongoing support given to me by the people at Imani.
In Imani I found hope, kindness and nurturing.
Over the years I have had repeated hospital admissions, constantly going in and out and never getting anywhere in this revolving door. I was desperate. My family was desperate. I needed therapy rather than simply re-feeds. After 17 years of illness, I needed a more long-term treatment. This was not available on the NHS and private was just not a possibility. I was written off as a ‘chronic’ case and switched to a more palliative type of care.
I gave up hope.
Then something in my mind told me to give it one last chance. I came out to South Africa and have been in intense treatment for 15 months now. In this facility I found hope, kindness and nurturing. Here were people who specialized in ED and some who had also experienced them, working hand in hand with me, slowly and incredibly patiently to get me where I am today.
My journey to recovery is by no means over yet but now I can see a future. I have dreams. And no tube-feeding was involved. I cannot express my gratitude enough.
I have my life back. Kath W
There is something incredibly powerful and special about Imani. It was the first place to show a genuine understanding of eating disorders and provided me with an opportunity to heal emotionally, and physically whilst developing spiritually.
If I had a rewind button on my life, I would take you back to Christmas 2008. It would be a very different picture indeed. Five years ago I was a completely lost, angry, depressed and resentful little girl. Aged 22, I thought I knew everything there was to know about the world, but the reality was I didn’t even know how to live. I was completely and utterly trapped and controlled by my eating disorder, I just didn’t know it. I was in such denial that I believed that I didn’t really have a problem with food, even though I spent every waking moment of my life thinking about it and everything connected to it: what I was/wasn’t allowed, how much/how little I could have, how much I weighed, calories, restricting, demoralising binges, and purging through laxatives and hours of gruelling exercise. Weighing myself 20+ times a day was nothing out of the ordinary for me. Every day, when I woke up, my heart sank as I knew I would have to live another day forcing myself to follow my self-imposed rules.
I used to be able to ‘control’ the binges but it eventually the point where I wasn’t sure I could make it out the house without it sneaking up on me. I relented to the urges and resigned myself to constant eating and purging, then when the purging was too much I relented and just ate, I stopped bothering to fight the powerlessness over my eating disorder. I figured this was the end of my life. I was in so much physical, mental and emotional turmoil I literally had nowhere to turn. The food was killing me in every way.
I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Why did everyone else seem to have control over their food and weight? Something in me knew, in spite of everything, there had to be another way. It was only a tiny flicker of hope; after all I had been this way most of my life. But this flicker of hope was just enough to drive me to ask for help. I asked my parents, who had never truly realised the extent of my illness due to the secrecy that surrounded it, for their help. I flew out from the UK and attended Primary care facility for 4 months until I found Imani.
There is something incredibly powerful and special about Imani. It was the first place to show a genuine understanding of eating disorders and provided me with an opportunity to heal emotionally, and physically whilst developing spiritually. I was encouraged by the supportive counsellors and recovery assistants, many of whom had walked the same path themselves, to get honest about my feelings, my illness and anything else I was keeping hidden. It was the safe environment that I needed to be able to process some of the most painful and shameful aspects of my eating disorder.
My early recovery from my eating disorder was very difficult. It was a long process that required rigorous honesty and total commitment. At times I thought “I just don’t think I can do this” but Imani stepped in an kept me strong when I had nothing left in me. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the first step to the rest of my life.
Today I follow the same 12-Step programme Imani introduced to me four years ago and I have been ‘clean’ from my eating disorder for just over 3 ½ years. My body found its healthy weight without me controlling anything and has settled without changing for 2 years: nothing short of a miracle. Christmas and Easter no longer make me want to run and hide. Little things I value in recovery include eating foods that once terrified me or eating out at restaurants, making food choices based on what I want or need and not according to the rules of my eating disorder. I have learnt what my boundaries are around food and exercise to keep my recovery safe.
Imani’s love, care and support, not just during treatment but in the months after, has allowed me to accomplish my biggest achievement in life today: making it to the final year of my psychology degree and undertaking a dissertation in eating disorders for my Honours. I now want to help others and give back some of what I was so generously given.
My ethos now is, no matter how painful life can be, dealing with feelings and not falling back into eating disordered patterns of behaviour is the only way I can live my life. One day at a time. My recovery is so precious to me: it was worth the fight and I very nearly gave up on myself. Imani did not give up on me though and it will always be credited with laying the foundation of life in recovery today: for that I am forever grateful.
Phillipa R (eating disorder)