RA with exercise addiction/Eating Disorder

rachmcgrave Member Posts: 2
edited 31. Jul 2010, 09:38 in Living with Arthritis archive
I have suffered fro Stills Disease since I was 6 and then developed anorexia when I was 11 wich came with exercise addiction. When I was 20 my arthritis burnt out and due to no pain and a sense of freedom started exerciseng for upto 8 hours a day. At 30 years of age the Stills Disease reared its ugly head but the exercise addiction was still there along with eating disorders. I am now 40 and still in the mind set. The activity of the disease is severe at the moment and I am on methotrexate and soon to include sulfazaline and am on high dose steroids. I am panicky about putting on weight although I have a normal bmi now and when I am well really push with my exrcise doing up to an hour a day with fitness dvds. I then overdo it and end up in a flare up with a lot of pain and restrictive movemnt. My partner Ray who is my carer is exasperated with me because he sees what i am doing and doesnt know how to cope with me. He has tried taking the dvds away but I just buy new ones. I am not being a 'disaobedient child' exercise addiction is a real problem for me and I just feel compelled but what a 'normal person' would suffer from slight discomfort would lay me low for a week. If there is anybody who has suffered or is suffering from the same problem or has advice on how I can deal with this please reply because I really want to help myself but just don't know what to do. Sorry the powst is so long.


  • speedalong
    speedalong Member Posts: 3,272
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi and welcome,

    I'm sorry that I don't have any of personal experience of your unique combination of difficulties.

    Have you tried changing the forms of exercise that you take, maybe trying swimming/pilates/yoga instead of exercise DVDs might work as it is will still help satisfy your urge to exercise but will be easier on the joints.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 28,046
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    HI Rach

    I do undertsand how you are feeling more than a lot maybe as my youngest developed an eating disorder last year too. She is now 12 and doing ok - in fact discharged from the psychologist and dietician last week.

    I still dont knwo how to help though, I would guess you have already tried the route that she has been down?

    I do like Speedy's ides though - swimming is so much gentler an exercise.

    I hope you are abel to get things under control and wish you well.

    Do talk to us on here we are a lovely bunch (if I say so myself :wink: )


    Toni xx
  • elnafinn
    elnafinn Member Posts: 7,412
    edited 31. Jul 2010, 04:23
    Hi Rach

    Welcome to the forum. It is good that you say you really want to help yourself. I wonder when you decided this. Is it recently or some time ago that you made this decision. This is the start, because it has to come from you in the first place. Have you seen a psychologist/ dietician at all?

    Would it be better if you had a personal trainer so that you could work together with someone? You know what happens when you do too much exercise because you become unwell for a week or so and I presume then, you are unable to exercise. Is that right? If you did more moderate exercise every day this probably would not happen or not so much and then you would be doing the same amount of exercise every day as opposed to overdoing it and then being laid up and unable to exercise.

    If you like to swim that is a very good exercise. My daughter has now progressed from the indoor swimming pool and does outdoor swimming many times a week. She loves to swim in the lidos, sea, lakes, anywhere. She is the proud owner of a wetsuit. She is doing a sponsored swim next month. Outside of work she swims. She loves it. She has joined swimming clubs and now has a completely new circle of friends to add to her already bursting amount of friends.

    I do just under 1 hours exercise most days, but it is only half an hour of gentle stretching exercises and 15 minutes with a hula hoop (no tricks :lol: ). Later on in the day I do 10 minutes on an exercise bike. I do this mainly to keep as mobile/strong as possible, it has become part of my life and I enjoy doing it.

    I wish you well, you can break the cycle if you really want to do so. I would also like to say a hello to Ray. He sounds like a true gem and it must be so difficult for him to see what is going on and not be able to sort it.

    Elna x
  • dorcas
    dorcas Member Posts: 3,515
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Rach,

    I don't have any experience of the issues you face but feel that you need professional support and advice to deal with how you feel and help you to find a manageable rest/ exercise balance which won't have the destructive impact on your arthritis.

    So sorry Rach...this must be so difficult for you...and your husband whom you recognise feels helpless and worried about you.

    Please consider speaking this through with your docs so that they will refer you on to a specialist(s)... and include your hubbie who has such a key role and wants to help you with this.

    please keep posting as we do care and will do all we can...even if it's only moral support.


    Iris x
  • skezier
    skezier Member Posts: 11,333
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Rach,

    Welcome from me as well. I am sorry to read your post though as its been a long battle for you. Addiction of any kind is so hard but well done for having a normal bmi.

    I wish I could think of something that would help you. I really do hope you have had some help and support from your gp and are seeing someone to help you get through all this? If not that is all I can think to suggest.

    I think small steps at a time might help. If you could cut down by maybe 5-10 mins a week maybe? I so hope you and Ray are getting some real help from the gp's. Wish I could help but hope so much you are able to get this under better control. Nice to meet you. Cris x
  • Starburst
    Starburst Member Posts: 2,546
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00

    My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine how challenging it must be to balance these two difficult illnesses at the same time. I developed anorexia at the age of 13 and at the age of 22, I am finally stable and beginning to get my life back on track. And then I was diagnosed with RA! :roll: However, I wouldn't be where I was today without a lot of therapy and psychiatry. Is this something you are willing to consider? CBT might be useful to help you deal with your exercise addiction. I also had this issue but it was before my RA developed, so I'm afraid I don't have any helpful tips. I know how hard it can be to counteract the irrational ED voice with the rational one in your head.

    If you want to private message me, feel free.
    Sophie x
  • angel1
    angel1 Bots Posts: 1,464
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    You don`t say whether you have received therapy Rachel, but I`m guessing that, given the length of time you have had the problems, you have. Also the fact that you now have a normal BMI.

    If this is the case, then you will be aware of what can trigger the anorexia, and over exercising. I`m thinking that this latest onslaught of the RA is that trigger, and your fears for how it will impact on your life.

    If you are not seeing any one at the moment Rachel, please do so. You must know by now, that you absolutely cannot deal with this, without professional help.

    As a Counsellor, I personally would practice CBT with you, but you may fare better with a psychologist as well, using the CBT as support. If you don`t have a therapist at the moment, please see your GP, and start the ball rolling again.

    You have reached out, so you are already on the right road. Please, I urge you to get the professional help you so badly need........Ange.
  • marion1952
    marion1952 Member Posts: 963
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Dear Rachel

    Gosh - you have a lot on your plate!

    I think the other peeps have given you some really useful advice, so I can't add to that.

    I like the idea of you doing the swimming as that would certainly be good for your RA - although don't overdo that either.

    Hope you get some help soon Rachel - please keep posting and let us know how you go on as I am sure your experiences will be very helpful to other people on the forum who might be suffering as you are.

    Take care

  • wibberley
    wibberley Member Posts: 421
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Rach,

    I'm quite similar to you - developed Stills aged 7, burnt itself out a few years later, then re-appeared in my early 20's - rheummy told me the only exercise I could do was walking - so went straight out and bought a Jane Fonda video (in my defense, it was fashionable at the time!) and jumped around the living room! I then progressed to aerobics classes and would attend 2 a day. Because of over-exherting myself, I had quite a few steroid injections in the knees - would give myself a day or 2 to rest after them then return to the exercise classes. These days, I don't think anyone would give me that many steroids, but back then they were quite 'free' with them! Once again, it burnt itself out but re-appeared last year.

    I'm now overly cautious about exercise 1) because I can't afford to be injured with 3 kids to look after and 2) I don't want to start pushing myself too hard again!

    I do think you need to go through this with a professionally qualified councellor - you have an addictive personality and run the risk of transferring your addiction to something else but this may be less likely if you have a good councellor.

    I think the first step would be to tell your GP about this. They can then refer you accordingly.

    Well done for telling us, in doing this you've shown yourself that you really want things to change and with this positive attitude, I'm sure you will.

    Lois x

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