health

Kasey Chambers: What it's like having anorexia when you're a 30-year-old mum.

At 30-years-old Kasey Chambers was newly married, a mum to four-year-old son Talon and an award winning singer-songwriter.

She also weighed only 44 kilos.

Her 2001 album, Barricades & Brickwalls went seven times platinum, and the single Not Pretty Enough shot straight to number one on the ARIA singles chart.

But with an enormous amount of success, came overwhelming pressure.

“I just didn’t feel myself and I knew that something wasn’t right…I just couldn’t admit to myself that that is what it was,” Chambers told Mia Freedman on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast.

She felt as though her life was spiralling out of control, she couldn’t say ‘no’ to people, and she began to resent music.

The one thing she could control was what she put into her mouth.

Kasey Chambers speaks to Mia Freedman about her experience with an eating disorder. Post continues below. 

Her eating disorder, a mix of bulimia and anorexia, wasn’t motivated by body dissatisfaction.

“I wouldn’t look in the mirror and see someone really fat,” she told Freedman.

“I didn’t want to look in the mirror. It wasn’t an image thing for me,” she said. “It wasn’t ‘Oh I look fat in photos’. It was more about the control thing.”

At her lowest, Chambers was 10 kilos under her ideal body weight. Her friends and family became increasingly concerned about her thin frame, insisting that she didn’t look well.

And despite agreeing that she didn’t look healthy, she just couldn’t bring herself to eat.

When people asked what was wrong, Chambers felt like she didn’t have the language to explain it. “It couldn’t be that”, she thought. “Everything pointed to ‘nah, that’s not me'” – eating disorders don’t happen to 30-year-old women.

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“I don’t care enough about my image,” she reasoned. Not enough to drive her to starve herself.

“I didn’t really realise that other things could drive me to any sort of addiction I guess…” she said.

Although it was easy for her to ignore for a while, eventually she sought help.

Chambers began seeing a psychologist very regularly for six months.

She told Freedman that it started with her listening and understanding what the psychologist was saying, but took some time for her to realise “what I needed to take and put into my life.”

“A lot of it was about triggers and how it makes you feel when you don’t want to eat or when you do want to eat.”

Combating an eating disorder is often a long and arduous process. As Freedman pointed out, when one suffers from an addiction to gambling, or alcohol, or drugs, the solution is to quit.

To ‘give up’ the behaviour or substance that is controlling them. But anorexia and bulimia are far more complicated; it is a relationship that must be addressed and reformed.

In retrospect, Chambers can see what caused her eating disorder.

“I think a lot of that actually was me not allowing myself to kind of break down every now and then,” she explained.

Now, she recognises the importance of accepting that it might be a bad day, or a bad week, and negativity is a vital part of living a balanced life. Pushing it away can lead to anxieties manifesting in a different, more debilitating way.

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Now, Chambers is a happy, healthy 40-year-old single mother of three.

In late 2005, she had two children to husband Shane Nicholson, also an Australia singer-songwriter. Together they had Arlo Ray born in 2007, and Poet Poppin, born in 2011.

There’s a good reason they call it The Blue Lake… #mountgambier

A photo posted by Kasey Chambers (@kaseychambersmusic) on

In April 2013, the pair announced their separation after eight years of marriage.

Although she wishes she could say that things are now perfectly balanced, and she lives in a perpetual state of bliss, Chambers acknowledges that she by no means has everything “sorted”.

“Some days I am still rocking back and forth in the foetal position in the corner bawling my eyes out…” she laughs.

But she now recognises how important those moments are in ensuring she “embrace the negative in life… and embrace those hard times”.

Chambers’ eating will continue to be something she needs to keep in check. For many, stress leads to a significant decrease in appetite, and she is now on the look out for familiar symptoms.

You can listen to the full episode of No Filter with Kasey Chambers, here. 

Check out all our podcasts and any books mentioned in any of our shows at apple.co/mamamia.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected].

You can also visit their website, here.  

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