WHY EATING DISORDERS ARE SO HARD TO KICK TO THE CURB!
While my clients who come into my office on a regular basis tend to be the most thoughtful, generous folks you’d ever meet (literally, people who would never dare hurt a fly), there is one thing to know about their eating disorders: they are determined to keep people stuck in the mud. That being said, recovery is absolutely possible, but there is certainly a lot of hard work involved. It takes people getting to know their eating disorders, its quirks and super sly moves, and how to combat it with alternatives to get you back in the driver’s seat. It can certainly be exhausting at times, but once you’ve mastered understanding your eating disorder’s tricks and trades, it will become second nature for you to give it a one-two punch!
Here are reasons I’ve seen contribute to what makes these disorders possible, but tricky to beat:
They make you evaluate your core values
So often the ways of an eating disorder become a part of our identity. When life gets challenging and we are presented with many choices, an eating disorder can feel like a security blanket. We aren’t sure about the future, what’s gonna happen with that school, or what’s gonna happen with that job or relationship, what’s gonna happen with our children, but what we know and often turn to is our eating disorder. At times of chaos and confusion, it can feel like our best friend. And yet it takes us away from asking ourselves and taking a stab at big, scary questions: what are my values, and what is important to me? These are questions we so often overlook until something like an eating disorder smacks us right in the face. And yet they are very important ones that figuring out in therapy can help you get the right armor to take charge of your life.
Our environment may reinforce the behaviors
A challenge that many of my clients face is taking a look at their environment and seeing how their home life, work life, or school life may in fact be keeping their eating disorder alive! I know, crazy to think about, why would anyone want to suffer with this, and yet whether or not it is intentional or unintentional, it’s very important to understand. Maybe one of your family members or friends also has an eating disorder, and these behaviors have been learned as normal and not harmful, or maybe you are surrounded by people in your life that prioritize thinness and good looks over health and happiness. Either way, understanding our environment forces us to make a choice if we want to choose recovery: we either must find ways to change our environment, or we must find ways to accept it. These are challenging questions to look at, but then again you deserve to live a life of not obsessing about weight / calories / food 24 hours, seven days a week.
They cause you to find another way of coping
I’ll be the first to admit it: change is really hard. I have yet to meet someone that loves change, but I have met people who have learned to master change, and make it a friendly visitor rather than a dreaded demon. Suffering from an eating disorder forces us to find other ways of coping. This can be really challenging as perhaps other ways of coping have not be learned or current ways of coping are continually reinforced. Either way, we are faced with the challenge of having to find and use consistently new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, and new ways of coping with the world. These are all skills that can be learned and supported in therapy. While eating disorders may have helped us cope and get through some of the worst of times, they also have stripped millions from the peace, joy, laughter, and ease they deserve.