Is there anything you can say to help me deal with my eating disorder?
Answer: I don't know if there is anything I can say that would be helpful, but I can share with you some ways that I have seen people successfully overcome anorexia and other eating disorders. I hope that at least a part of this might be relevant for you.
I can imagine that you might be hurting, or struggling, or feeling alone. The fact that you posted your question here suggests that you're looking for some answers, and trying to find new ways to cope. This sort of information gathering is an important first step in recovery.
Dealing with an eating disorder is challenging because the illness involves factors that are deeper than simply eating. For example, identity, self-image, sense of autonomy, self-esteem, self-talk, thinking patterns, or other factors.
Despite this complexity, many people have found success in overcoming disordered eating. Some things to consider:
- You do not have to deal with this alone. Disordered eating can be a very isolating illness. Secrecy, shame, and anxiety often leave people with eating disorders feeling distant from others and misunderstood. Connecting with others can help to change this isolation. Therapists, support groups (online or face-to-face), friends, and family are possible sources of social connections and support.
- Keep finding information. The more you learn about anorexia and disordered eating behavior, the better equipped you are to know what to expect and what strategies to try. So many people have been where you are, you can benefit from their trial-and-error and use the most effective techniques for recovery. You can find information by doing research on the internet (remember that not all websites offer accurate, credible information), reading books, or by speaking with a professional such as a psychiatrist, a therapist, or a disordered eating specialist.
- Because overcoming an eating disorder requires significant changes in beliefs and thinking patterns, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful. Many CBT techniques can be used independently with the guidance of a self-help book, such as "Feeling Good," by David Burns, or "Life Without Ed," by Jenni Schaefer. It can also be helpful to work with a therapist to learn and practice CBT techniques.
- Part of you wants to recover, and part of you wants to remain ill. This is normal. It's okay if part of you does not want to give up disordered eating. You can still get well and make changes when you listen to (and strengthen) the part of you that does want to get well. "Changing For Good," by James N Prochaska, is an excellent book about change and overcoming addictive behaviors. Disordered eating is considered by many to be an addictive behavior.
- If you have decided that you want to give up the eating disorder, but do not know how, a treatment program specifically for eating disorders can be very helpful. Treatment programs provide structure, routine, support, and guidance to help people with disordered eating successfully change thoughts, beliefs, and habits.
- Remember who you are as a person, outside of the disordered eating behavior. You are not your illness. You are a person who has had interests, hopes and dreams, beliefs and values, and relationships outside of the eating disorder. Who were you before the eating disorder began? That person still exists, though might be stifled right now by the eating disorder. A new, stronger you is waiting to be re-born when you overcome this illness.
I wish you luck in dealing with the eating disorder. I hope you decide to seek out support, even if you are not ready to give up disordered eating yet. It can be nice just to be heard and understood without needing to start taking action to change right away. You deserve to be supported wherever you are at in your journey.