A Peace of Nourishment, will feature on ABC's Compass on Sunday June 2 – World Eating Disorder Day – and Sunday June 9 at 6.30pm.
After 20 years of starving herself to feel worthy and binging to feel nothing at all, Kylie van der Veer's eating disorder has finally taken its toll, but with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and no clear pathway to recovery, the challenge ahead is much bigger than she realises. Presented by Rebecca Gibney, in an intimate and empathetic interview, Kylie shares all, as we look back at the vital steps she took towards recovery, documented over the past 3.5 years.
In this two-part series, and under the guidance of Claire Middleton OAM (Founder of the Butterfly Foundation), Kylie explores a variety of treatment options but it quickly becomes clear that she is using her eating disorder as a substitute for feeling and she's not going to let it go without a fight. Documented by her partner Annie, Kylie shares without inhibition, offering an emotional insight into the tangled heart that lies beneath the world's deadliest mental illness.
A Peace of Nourishment, which has also been sold internationally, will feature leading experts, therapists, authors and advocates from all over the world, including the latest research into brain science and genetics. With only an estimated 25% of Australian sufferers accessing treatment, this series offers a vital gateway for eating disorder sufferers and their carers.
"I am on a quest to recover from a 20+ year lived experience with anorexia combined with binge eating disorder. In what has been a painful and incredibly secretive history, from the time I was 15 I have either binged or starved. With the incredible support of my partner in 2015 (at the age of 38), I decided enough was enough. It is still a struggle, but I am finally learning and with that learning I am sharing, and with that sharing I am living," explains Kylie.
"1900 Australians died from an eating disorder in 2014. This is higher than the national road toll so this series needed to be not just about my eating disorder recovery but about everybody's eating disorder recovery. In the documentary, I was so fortunate to speak with the best experts in the world to bring back answers so that this information can become accessible to everyone who needs it," she added.
In addition to these episodes, a website www.apeaceofnourishment.com has been created where more of Kylie's story, including every therapy session and interview she experienced over the past four years, will be made available in full for other sufferers, their families and carers to access as an ongoing resource.
Rebecca Gibney is one of Australia's most beloved and respected actresses. Her recent credits include Ch 7's popular drama Wanted, which she also co-created and produced, Jocelyn Moorhouse's feature film The Dressmaker alongside Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Liam Hemsworth, the TV biopic Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door and web series The Circle for Domain. Rebecca is currently in production on the New Zealand feature film Lowdown Dirty Criminals.
Executive Producer/Director Annie Flynn is an award winning filmmaker with 20-years experience in the production of all formats, including television drama, comedy, Australian, UK and US telemovies and more recently factual and documentary. She has produced and directed a top rating, primetime national television special for the Nine Network, Line Produced the Emmy nominated and multiple AACTA Award winning series Please Like Me and was part of the Producing team on the Australian feature film, The Wedding Party which won multiple awards including Best Film at the New York Film Festival, Manhattan Film Festival and the Los Angeles Movie Awards.
Co- Executive Producer Claire Middleton OAM (formerly Vickery) is the Founder of The Butterfly Foundation, the National Peak Body for Eating Disorders in Australia. Claire suffered from bulimia and anorexia in her youth and also cared for her two daughters with anorexia. She was honoured by the State Government of Victoria by being placed on the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2004 and received the Woman of Achievement award by Brainlink in 2006. She was also awarded the International Academy of Eating Disorders' Meehan Hartley Award in 2006 for community service and in 2012 honoured in the Order of Australia awards with an OAM.
She has served on State and Federal Government advisory boards and committees for body image and eating disorders. Claire is an Advisory Board Member for the International Academy of Eating Disorders and in 2014 Claire co-founded the Australians for Mental Health Organisation with Professor Pat Mc Gorry.
Follow @apeaceofnourishment on Instagram and facebook or visit www.apeaceofnourishment.com for further information.
Question: What is A Peace of Nourishment?
Kylie van der Veer: A Peace of Nourishment is a documentary filmed over four years documenting my recovery from a long term eating disorder. We filmed with some of the key experts across the world including the latest research – and I also experienced the benefits of eastern medicine. It is essentially a story of hope – and it leads back to our website www.apeaceofnourishment.com where there will be a private members area that people suffering can view all interviews/treatments filmed from the privacy of their own home and hopefully find their own inspiration to get well.
Question: Was it difficult for you to participate in A Peace of Nourishment?
Kylie van der Veer: It definitely had its challenging moments when I wasn't feeling my best – however part of recovery is moving through the setbacks and we wanted to be authentic with that. It's only now that I am feeling so well that I understand how valuable those setbacks are as they give you opportunity to learn and grow further each time as you continue moving forward in getting well.
Question: What do you hope to achieve from sharing your story in A Peace of Nourishment?
Kylie van der Veer: There is so much to answer; we hope to help people realise that they are not alone, to believe that you truly can get well, to find inspiration to start their own recovery journey, to remove stigma from eating disorders, to raise awareness, to give sufferers and carers an online resource where they can find some helpful tools, to encourage people to start talking and mostly to save lives.
Question: Do you believe filming A Peace of Nourishment is part of the vital steps you've taken towards recovery?
Kylie van der Veer: Definitely, I was so fortunate to experience the very best of both eastern and western medicine across four years. I grew up singing and dancing on stage so I am used to cameras… I found sharing my story like this almost like writing in a journal. It lightened the load with each entry. I also met a number of recovered sufferers along the way. It was like finding a supportive family and now I feel strong enough to support others.
Question: What message do you hope to spread this World Eating Disorder Day?
Kylie van der Veer: YOU CAN GET BETTER! I was unwell for so many years that I truly never believed I could find peace from the constant tormenting thoughts and feelings that surround living with an eating disorder. But as we continued filming, I continued forgiving myself for setbacks and moving forward – the thoughts and feelings lessened and lessened until they took a very backseat position. I now know where to put them if they occasionally arise. There truly is hope. The power is within you and anyone can do it.
Question: Why was it important for you to share Kylie van der Veer's story with Australians?
Claire Middleton: Because nothing else in the media explained how this is a mental illness and particularly because it doesn't focus on anorexia only, which other programs fixate on due to the weight loss.
So many people are completely paralysed with mental pain from binge eating and it needs to be raised as an important mental health issue.
Question: What are some of the vital steps Kylie took towards recovery?
Claire Middleton: Getting in touch with her healthy self, her authentic self and finding self-compassion .
Question: What do you hope to achieve this World Eating Disorder Day?
Claire Middleton: Awareness of eating disorders, greater empathy from the community, less stigma and increased understanding.
Question: Can you share the symptoms friends and family need to look for in those who may be suffering from an eating disorder?
Claire Middleton: Well before they use food you can look for signs of anxiety, social isolation and depression, similar to other mental health issues such as a change in eating behaviour such as restriction, bingeing, becoming suddenly vegetarian, vegan or vomiting.
Question: What advice do you have for an Australian who has recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder?
Claire Middleton: Get help. You cannot get over these illnesses on your own. Seek specialised treatment and check that each person you see IS specialised and trained in treating an eating disorder.
Interview by Brooke Hunter