It’s Not About the Food
Well, sort of. It wouldn’t be an eating disorder if food weren’t part of the equation, but if the focus is on food alone, it’s possible that you’re only scratching the surface. Underlying issues may contribute to beliefs that you are undeserving in some way, and this can lead to a strong desire for perfection – something that only highlights imperfections. Overwhelming emotions and feeling out of control might call for drastic measures, creating an opportunity for unhealthy coping mechanisms – such as binging, purging or restricting – to creep in. You might not even know how it all started or where things went wrong but when you find yourself in the grips of an eating disorder, you are grappling with addiction. It would be one thing if your addiction was about drugs or alcohol, where taking those things out of the picture might seem like an easy solution, but with food, you have to change your relationship all together. Over time, the addiction of an eating disorder might feel like the life jacket that’s kept you afloat, or maybe it’s turned into yet another weight that pulls you under. Either way, it takes bravery and courage to set forth on the path of recovery and this process requires time, patience, planning and support; you don’t have to do it alone.
A Perfect Storm
A wise parent once described the contributing factors to illness as “genetic, environmental and random.” To that I would add temperament and personality, at least when it comes to eating disorders. How sensitive you are, introvert or extrovert, what thoughts you tell yourself, how you use your voice and interact with the world around you, your biological and hormonal makeup, situational influences – all of these things can contribute to the perfect storm that results in an eating disorder. And the eating disorder itself can contribute to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, shame and self-loathing. You might find that the eating disorder has a negative impact on relationships as you have difficulty being honest and genuine or true to your values. Often there’s a tendency to people-please, avoid situations and isolate. It’s important to understand that none of these things have to define who you are. Staying true to yourself and working towards your dreams can still become a reality but it does take effort. Recognize your situation for what it is and make a commitment to take action – this is the first key in creating positive change.
The Chicken or the Egg
Many people who suffer from eating disorders also struggle with co-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression, other mood disorders, PTSD or drug and alcohol addiction. You might find yourself running around in circles trying to figure out which came first. To me all that matters is that every aspect is taken seriously and that together we treat the whole person that is you. Every person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all type of approach. I will listen to what you bring to me, and we’ll take it from there.
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